Iowa's Greek parties dry out

The Daily Iowan

University of Iowa

IOWA CITY, Iowa-- Alcoholic beverages at social events, held in University of Iowa, fraternity houses have been indefinitely banned by the Interfraternity and Panhellenic Councils.

In a Sept. 26 meeting, members of the two councils, along with the presidents of the UI Greek organizations voted for a ban while evaluating the groups' alcohol policies, said Beth Dinsmore, president of the Panhellenic Council.

"I completely support this," Dinsmore said.

Members of the councils met with UI Dean of Students Philip Jones, prior to their decision, Dinsmore said. With Jones' input, they decided to consider the ban. The 50 Greek representatives at the Sept. 26 meeting gave the approval.

Sigma Alpha Epsilon President Todd Johnson said, "It's time to re-examine ourselves. I think the Greeks are doing the right thing with the (ban).

Interfraternity Council President Bob Kendall said the meeting was a result of the death of Lambda Chi Alpha associate member Matthew Garofalo, 19, who died of acute intoxication after attending a Sept. 7 party at the Lambda Chi house.

Garofalo's death already prompted the Iowa State Board of Regents to consider banning alcohol from fraternity and sorority houses.

Kendall said, however, the Interfraternity Council's alcohol policies are good and UI's are among the most progressive in the nation.

"Anything can be improved," he said. Once the fraternity members are briefed by their presidents, Kendall said they will understand why the ban has been in place.

Sororities were not included in the ban because national rules do not allow alcohol in their houses. Parties outside the fraternity houses are also not included in the ban.

"It's not the start of a dry campus," Kendall said, "or the demise of the Greek system." Kirsten Roth, president of Alpha Phi sorority, said she supports the ban as a tool of change.

"I think this is good," Roth said. "It gives us time to re-evaluate our policies and see how we need change the system. It's a good break."

Roth said she doesn't think there will be a negative reaction to the moratorium.

"I think people will be supportive when they have the information and understand the situation," she said.

She said the Greek system is not just about alcohol, so the ban should not disrupt life.

"The base purpose (of Greek organizations) is to develop members and support them," Roth said. "Doing this is a step for us in re-evaluating the system."

Roth said the Greek system has been considering a move like this since Garofalo's death.

"It's not something that's come up suddenly," she said. "There's a lot of evidence that this should be done, and it's not something we're taking lightly. Serious things have happened that we need to address." She said the alcohol ban will likely result in policy changes. "Our top priority is the safety of our people," Roth said. "I don't know how that will be translated into policy."

UI is the second major university to have its Greek ban alcohol this year. At the University of Colorado- Boulder, the governing bodies of CU's 26 fraternities and sororities voted to ban alcohol from all functions held in chapter houses and to promote a "zero tolerance" policy against underage drinking by members.

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