When a fraternity gets caught violating the University’s alcohol policy, there can be hell to pay. Suspensions, fines and withdrawal of University recognition can result if a fraternity holds unregistered parties and uses common-source containers, like kegs.
When the School of Business and Public Management held its leadership retreat this spring, it violated those rules and also served alcohol without checking age identification. But SBPM is receiving just a slap on the wrist. Is there a difference between a social organization violating the rules and a school doing the same thing? The answer is yes and no.
SBPM’s goal at this event was not to get their members drunk, and they did not skip the registration process to avoid being monitored. They said they simply did not know about the registration process or the University’s alcohol policy about common-source containers. And it seems unlikely a school of the University would purposely evade the rules.
But fraternities can gain from violating the rules, and that is why the University’s alcohol policy is strictly enforced with them. Many more accidents and injuries occur from fraternities abusing alcohol than from business school retreat participants.
The University is striking where it thinks the problems lie, and the fraternities have a nationwide reputation for abusing alcohol. GW fraternity members know that reputation, and no matter how hard they try to separate themselves from the pack, they must take responsibility for what their brothers across the country are doing.
But, a policy is a policy. The only way GW administrators can prove they are serious about curbing alcohol abuse is enforcing their policy in all cases. The University must try to avoid the appearance of a double standard. One way to do that is to educate the entire University community about the rules for alcohol consumption and make sure the rules are followed. It will be much more difficult to get away with violating the alcohol policy if everyone is aware of it and nearly everyone follows it.