Thursday, 26 January 2017

Responsible Hosts: The Greeks and Alcohol

Responsible Frat Parties
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Throughout the years, one idea has seemed to prevail in pop culture when it comes to fraternities and sororities: they can throw great parties.

“Hitting up a Frat Party has become a University bucket-list item for many students. It is a quintessential college experience for Greeks and non-Greeks alike,” Una Conradi, a Kappa Alpha Theta alumna mused to me during a chat.

“[Frat parties] are really a unique mix of people […] Students from all different backgrounds and faculties come a flocking looking for a new experience.”

Indeed, the Greek community is home to students from all walks of life and faculties. So is the promise of wild, unbridled drinking: one, accurate? And two, the idea that draws in the crowds? Conradi argues that alcohol is definitely not the only draw at these events, but rather that it’s the entire social process.

For members of the Greek community, the party is only a fraction of the experience. The social process actually starts with the planning. Dates are picked, themes are settled, and safety precautions have been considered. Fraternities (like all official student groups at the U of A) ensure that at least two of their members have taken part in  the official on-campus Event Organizer Training, which covers basic event planning, risk management and mitigation techniques, and education about alcohol policies and procedures. If a party is set to include alcohol, then the event’s servers and security will participate in the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission's online ProServe training. Some event planners may also take additional training sessions to help mitigate potential risks, like the Bystander Intervention Training that’s offered by the Sexual Assault Centre, although training opportunities like this are above and beyond the requirements of the University's alcohol policy. Being student groups, events hosted by the Greek community are also required to submit all events to the Student Event Risk Management Coordinator in the Office of the Dean of Students for review and approval prior to advertising.

During the planning process, organizers are also required to develop both an Emergency Action Plan and a Risk Assessment Plan. So while they’re pondering their playlist and snacks, they’re also working together to think about how to create the safest possible environment for party goers to enjoy.

Interestingly and unbeknownst to many (i.e. me), sororities have decided to disallow alcohol on their properties altogether, as is the case in all sororities under the Panhellenic Council of North America. Una Conradi explains that, among other reasons, sororities wanted to distance themselves from the “media-driven party mania.” When sororities do host events with alcohol present, they happen outside the houses and the organizers follow all of the training and event regulations that all U of A student groups abide by.

Former Phi Gamma Delta (Fiji) President Jayden Bearchell (B.A. ’16) deems that the Greeks’ most unique contribution to campus drinking culture is a sense of responsibility. “While this doesn't necessarily lead to decreased drinking relative to the general student body, it does contribute to a healthy level of safety and knowledge pertaining to alcohol in the Greek system,” says Bearchell.

Resources You Might Want to Check Out Yourself:

Process Map for High Risk Student Group Events

Event Planning for Student Groups

Student Group Services Training Sessions

ProServe Registration

Low Risk Drinking Guidelines

Relationships are a big part of the student life experience – from friends to food, a large portion of our adult associations are formed during our university years, and this includes our relationship with alcohol. In our latest series of stories, YouAlberta has partnered with the Healthy Campus Unit to explore a variety of student-alcohol relationships.

Catherine - YouAlberta Contributor

Catherine is a 2016 BSc graduate (in Bio and English) who will be tackling a BEd in Secondary Education this September. She currently works at the Centre for Teaching and Learning and her passions include children’s health and flat-faced pets. When she isn’t eating or chuckling to herself, Catherine enjoys playing piano, exploring the river valley and spiralling into existential reflections while stargazing.


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