As GW administrators attend to the growing alcohol problem on campus, several have questioned the role Greek-letter organizations play in developing a alcohol culture among college students.
“Of the 22 students hospitalized last semester, several were described as having consumed alcohol at a fraternity event or house at some point in their evening,” said Senior Assistant Dean of Students Mike Walker.
But Tracie Anzaldi, the coordinator for Greek Affairs and Spirit Events, denies that Interfraternity Council-recognized fraternities were linked to the hospitalizations. And IFC President Neil Smith said he knows of only one alcohol violation brought against an IFC-recognized fraternity last semester.
The discrepancy between the perceptions of GW administrators and Greek-letter officials could stem from the different ways people define fraternity events, Smith said.
Smith said GW fraternities are not ignoring the alcohol problems and are committed to making changes.
“(IFC) fraternities are showing a lot more concern about the use of alcohol and the role alcohol plays in social functions,” he said.
The IFC created a new vice president of risk management position on its executive board after GW fraternities voted against establishing a party patrol. The group would have ensured that organizations obey the University alcohol policy when they host social events.
“We decided it’s more effective to train members so when they do have parties, they’re partying responsibly,” Smith said.
Risk management is intended as a resource for fraternity members, he said. The initiative includes training fraternity members in crisis management and educating them about housing liabilities and fraternity insurance policies.
The vice president of risk management will visit each fraternity once per semester and review the organization’s risk management policies, Smith said. The IFC voted to make risk management part of Fraternity Cup, a competition among GW fraternities that allows them to gain points for various accomplishments including philanthropy and academic achievement.
The effort already has begun, Anzaldi said. She said workshops in early February will educate the Greek-letter community about risk management, an initiative other universities and colleges already have adopted.
“This is the way social chairs need to realize if something happens, it puts your butt on the line,” she said. “It’s important for (social chairs) to raise awareness.”
Smith said GW certainly has problems with alcohol, but the fraternities are doing their part to make a difference.
“Based on the facts, numbers and efforts we’ve seen from individual fraternities and the IFC, there’s a huge awareness and concern about alcohol problems on campus,” he said.