By Emily Wangen
A new pilot program will be tested this weekend to allow eligible fraternity and sorority chapters to host events in which alcohol will be present under specific guidelines.
The program comes six months after UI Fraternity and Sorority Life announced an alcohol ban for all greek events and out-of-town formals after the death of Kamil Jackowski, a UI freshman who was found dead at a fraternity formal in Missouri in April, and other incidents.
As a result of the unsafe environment created by high-risk alcohol consumption in the UI greek community, the Alcohol Harm Reduction Work Group examined policies and practices and delivered recommendations on reducing harm and changing the affiliated students’ culture on alcohol use.
“These bans are not to be seen as a punishment,” said Interfraternity Council President Zachary Rubenbauer and Panhellenic Council President Anna Long in a letter published May 1. “Rather, they are an acknowledgment that we must address the pervasive and dangerous alcohol will exist until we have time to work together as a community and with university administration to devise solutions to make our events safer.”
Despite the pilot program, the alcohol moratorium remains in effect. The document said the lifting of the moratorium will depend on an overall assessment of the community’s readiness to abide by policies and productively engage in culture change.
“We believe this is an important opportunity for chapter members and leaders to be participants in positive change regarding the alcohol culture within the fraternity and sorority community,” Rubenbauer and Paul Mintner, co-chairs of the work group, and project manager Sarah Hansen wrote in a letter to the Alcohol Harm Reduction Work Group.
According to a document describing the pilot program, the program was created in the spirit of compliance and integrity after the work group found it was evident there was a culture of noncompliance and little encouragement from good performers to poor performers to align with the values of the community.
The 26 out of 36 chapters eligible to participate in this one-weekend-only event are those who have shown to be in compliance with the alcohol moratorium and have not violated any policies in the UI Code of Student Life, Interfraternity Council/Panhellenic Council, or policies of their respective national chapters.
“The opportunity to hold an event is a privilege and comes with responsibility,” Rubenbauer, Mintner, and Hansen wrote. “We are hopeful that the students will rise to this leadership challenge and provide a foundation for continued change within the community.”
The events must be held Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 and 2, but the document noted there is the possibility for chapters to schedule events to be held in early spring.
Chapters that wish to participate in the pilot program must adhere to guidelines including restrictions of alcoholic beverages to beer, wine, and hard cider for a maximum time period of three hours with a maximum of five drinks available for purchase for each legal-age attendee.
During the event, the UI police will have security officers conducting walkthroughs to ensure chapters are in compliance with the requirements.
After the event, participants in the pilot program must also complete a follow-up survey to provide feedback on the new process.
“We believe the pilot provides a chance for the community to model its values of leadership,” Rubenbauer and Mintner wrote in the letter to the UI fraternity and sorority community.