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Credit: Amanda Suarez

Members of fraternities at Penn say they do not expect to be affected by the hard liquor ban imposed by the North-American Interfraternity Conference, despite being among the campuses where the majority of fraternities must comply with the new policy.   

College senior and IFC President Reginal Murphy said given Penn's current alcohol policy, fraternities will have little trouble accommodating NIC's new guidelines. All but three of Penn's 27 fraternities in the Interfraternity Council fall under the NIC umbrella and will subsequently be affected by the ban. Three multicultural fraternities at Penn are also under NIC's jurisdiction. 

“We don’t really see much change coming from this," Murphy said. "There hasn’t really been an extensive amount of collaboration yet on how this is going to affect us because it probably won’t have a big effect.” 

Currently, Penn fraternities, as well as all other student organizations, are prohibited from serving hard liquor for parties with more than 150 guests. If they are stocking hard alcohol, fraternities are only allowed to serve pre-approved mixed drinks and cannot offer shots. Fraternity events that are open to beyond the brotherhood have to be registered. 

Still, as much as these policies frustrated members of fraternities and other student groups on campus whose events were consistently getting shut down, groups still found ways to obtain hard liquor. The University policies did not mean students were not able to access the alcohol.

These University policies were implemented following recommendations made by the Task Force on a Safe and Responsible Campus Community, which first convened in early 2017 to combat sexual harassment and violence, substance abuse, and other student conduct code violations. 

Though last year’s new policy changes received significant backlash, there has been no sign of significant protest from Greek Life members on the NIC’s announcements. The NIC policy, which must be implemented by September 2019, prohibits alcohol products exceeding 15 percent alcohol by volume at any chapter event or chapter facility, unless the liquor is served by a licensed third-party vendor. 

Several fraternity members have attributed this lack of response to the fact that the University policies suggested by the Task Force mirror many of the provisions in the NIC policy, and therefore will not make much of a difference.

“My freshman year you could walk down Spruce in a pack of 30 on a Friday night and find ten different parties within the first block and now I’ll see a few kids in front of a house being silently ushered to the back door of their house,” College junior Pranav Trivedi said. 

Trivedi is a member of the fraternity Phi Kappa Psi, one of the 24 Penn fraternities who fall under the NIC’s jurisdiction. He said he supports the broader implications of the NIC’s hard liquor ban, but also said Penn's regulations have been integrated into the protocol governing their social life. 

Other fraternities have drawn the same conclusion. Zeta Beta Tau President and College junior Matthew Popowitz said he doesn't believe the ban will have a profound impact on Penn's social scene, but said he does support the initiative's "promotion of safety and healthy drinking habits."

A formal plan of action between the IFC and other Greek life officials to implement the guidelines has not yet been established, but the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life anticipates conversation on the subject. 

“We look forward to talking with the NIC, Penn’s Interfraternity Council (IFC) chapters, and Greek alumni about the impact and implementation of this new national expectation," Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life Director Jazmyn Pulley wrote in an email statement to The Daily Pennsylvanian.

Still, as much as these policies frustrated members of fraternities and other student groups on campus whose events were consistently getting shut down, groups still found ways to obtain hard liquor. The University policies did not mean students were not able to access the alcohol.

The NIC’s decision comes in wake of national calls for change regarding binge drinking and hazing policies across US universities. In September, they implemented a Medical Good Samaritan Policy to encourage members to call emergency medical services without fear of repercussions from policy violations. These initiatives are in direct response to the many alcohol related deaths at fraternities that have garnered national attention in the last few years.

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