The trade association that represents dozens of fraternities across the nation and around the world has voted to ban hard alcohol in the wake of a series of high-profile hazing episodes that have resulted in deaths and lawsuits, officials announced this week.
Specifically, the resolution passed by the group prohibits "alcohol products above 15 percent ABV" from being present in "any chapter facility" — such as a fraternity house — or "at any chapter event" unless it is being sold by a licensed third party. Adults 21 and older are not exempt, officials said; beer, wine and malt beverages, which all fall below the 15 percent alcohol by volume threshold, will be allowed.
The move, announced Tuesday by the North-American Interfraternity Conference, was agreed to under a "near unanimous vote" at a meeting last month and is aimed at making fraternities and the more than 800 college campuses they are associated with safer, officials said.
The conference represents more than 80 percent of fraternities nationwide, said Judson Horras, the group's president and chief executive. Member fraternities with their more than 6,000 chapters must put a compliant policy in place by Sept. 1, 2019.
Horras said that for about a year, members and officials had been examining how to make college campuses and fraternities safer.
"The unequivocal, No. 1 thing that came back through the research and through the student interviews was that we've got to address the dangerous hard-alcohol situation," he said. "In all of the incidents that you hear about, the hospital transports, the overconsumption, the key ingredient, 99 percent of the time, is the use of this type of alcohol."
Indeed, the action comes on the heels of several deaths that resulted from grueling fraternity hazing rituals. In 2017, Timothy Piazza, a 19-year-old Penn State student, died after falling down the stairs during one such event, injuring his brain and rupturing his spleen. His parents reportedly reached a settlement this week with his fraternity, Beta Theta Pi.
In 2013, Chun Hsien Deng, an 18-year-old Baruch College student, was blindfolded and pushed before falling unconscious and dying. A jury found his fraternity guilty of involuntary manslaughter, and four members were sentenced to prison.
According to Bloomberg News, there have been more than 60 fraternity-related deaths since 2005.