Monday, January 25, 1999
Houston, Texas
Volume 64, Issue 78

Bill Requires Parental Consent for Abortions

Art Dept. Receives Donation

About the Cougar

UH maintains clean record on hazing, alcohol abuse

By Lena Atherton
Daily Cougar Staff

Partying and alcohol consumption are two activities the public tends to associate with college students -- and Greek organizations specifically -- but at UH, the nontraditional environment may be defying those stereotypes.

RTV senior Monica Quintero, who serves as president of the Students' Association and the UH chapter of Chi Omega sorority, said she thinks the University's "realistic" atmosphere helps prevent the alcohol-related tragedies other schools have experienced.

"We're a very nontraditional school. Many of our students work, and it would be difficult for them not to behave responsibly. It's hard to stay out drinking all night when you have to be at work or school the next day," Quintero said.

Whether the stereotypes about college students at large are unfair or not, they seem to be driven by tales of fraternity and sorority activities, which sometimes end tragically.

"Greeks are going to be targeted because of stereotypes of Greeks partying, and because the media likes to focus on

what's most interesting," Quintero said.

Photo Illustration by Ti Truong/The Daily Cougar

Three separate high-profile cases of alcohol-induced deaths by fraternity members have hit the news in the past few years. Benjamin Wynne, a junior at Louisiana State University, died of alcohol poisoning in the fall of 1997; Matthew Garofalo, a sophomore at the University of Iowa, choked on his own vomit after drinking in September 1995; and Scott Krueger, a freshman at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, died as a result of excessive alcohol consumption in fall of 1997.

Though UH's record of alcohol-related accidents remains low -- University Police reports show no alcohol violation arrests in 1995-96 and seven in 1997 -- Dean of Students Zack Coapland said UH should continue making alcohol awareness an issue in order to prevent abuse from becoming an issue.

"The reality is that these other campuses (LSU, UI and MIT) probably thought that they were doing enough until these tragedies occurred," Coapland said. "We have to continue being proactive and educating people about the risks associated with alcohol, because even one tragedy is too many."

Ben Jones, a senior political science major and president of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity, agreed.

"Alcohol is always going to be an issue," he said. "There are always going to be new students coming into a new environment that don't know when to say when."

Jones pointed out things Pi Kappa Alpha and other fraternities do to avoid potential alcohol-related problems, including risk-awareness programs members must complete. He also mentioned the Sober Brother program that is enforced at every function where alcohol is available. The program consists of three or four members who pledge not to drink, and then act as designated drivers for members who have drunk past their limits.

Jones emphasized education as the key to avoiding alcohol-related incidents. "Knowing how to diffuse the problem before it gets out of control is the solution," he said.

Other regulations fraternities must obey are the no free-flowing alcohol rule, which prohibits beer bongs and keg parties, and providing an equal amount of non-alcoholic beverages at functions where alcohol is offered. Sororities are even more strict -- most do not host parties that distribute alcohol.

UH fraternities and sororities also defy stereotypes when it comes to hazing. Director of Campus Activities Josey Evans, who wrote her thesis on sorority hazing, said that while sorority hazing is increasing nationwide, the groups at UH "are definitely in the minority when considering nationwide alcohol-related incidents."

Evans said that, because UH fraternities and sororities are always struggling to increase membership, "you don't have the pressure (to drink) that some of the other universities have. UH fraternities and sororities can't afford to lose members because of alcohol."

Greek members agree that hazing need not be a part of group activities at UH,

"Hazing doesn't promote brotherhood. All it does is demean someone," said Eddie Barrera, a political science sophomore and Sigma Chi fraternity member.

"We're completely anti-hazing," said Melissa Ragsdale, a sophomore communication major and Delta Zeta sorority member. "New members are placed on a pedestal, opposite of what you hear happening at other universities."

Another reason Evans attributes to UH's clean record is the more mature age of fraternity and sorority members at UH, where the average age of a Greek member is 22.

In the future, UH Greek organizations will benefit from a national movement to make local chapters alcohol-free by the year 2000. Several UH groups' national headquarters have announced plans to go dry by next summer.

Send comments to

Last update:

Visit The Daily Cougar