Since 1917, fraternity and sorority life has been a part of MSU, and today seven fraternities and four sororities are associated with campus. However, the story of Greek life at MSU is currently changing as all five of the alcohol-permitting fraternities recently made significant revisions to their alcohol policies, all for various reasons.
After alleged sexual assaults were reported at the Pi Kappa Alpha (Pike) and Sigma Chi fraternities last September, both fraternities were placed under suspension by the Dean of Students Matt Caires. In December 2013 that suspension was lifted when both Pike and Sigma Chi agreed to four different sanctions, including a hard alcohol ban on fraternity property. The Pike members were originally the ones to bring up the hard alcohol ban with Caires. “Our sanctions — it’s because we realized that we do need to make a change. I hope it kind of resonates in all the other houses,” said Jack Murray, president of Pike.
Those thoughts appear to have at least made it into the minds of the brothers at Alpha Gamma Rho (AGR). As of January 2014, AGR revised their alcohol policy to ban hard alcohol in common areas. “As a Greek community as a whole we all had to respond to what had happened at Pike and Sigma Chi. What affects one fraternity affects all of us because we’re all under the same label,” said Cole Ratzburg, president of AGR. Additionally, AGR is emphasizing “better enforcement” of previous Inter-Fraternity Council alcohol policy. Now, at a party every attendee over 21 is identified with a wristband and attendees under 21 are identified with a mark on the hand. Party goers are allowed five beers, with each one being marked by a hole punch in the wristband.
Kappa Sigma, on the other hand, has eliminated any need for wristbands at large parties. According to a new policy adopted within the past month, alcohol is banned in common areas whenever 10 or more non-members are present at the house. For Kappa Sigma, however, the motive behind the alcohol ban is physical house remodel. Over the summer and next year, the fraternity is planning a several thousand dollar renovation, on the siding, first floor and kitchen of their house. “It’s a lot harder to keep your alumni happy … if you’re going to have these parties that just destroy your house,” said Bill Jensen, president of Kappa sigma, “Our entire [student] executive committee decided it was time to enact a new policy.” Also, with the new policy members are not allowed to have more than six beers or over 80-proof alcohol in common areas at all times.
Changes are also in order for the Sigma Alpha Epsilon the (SAE) fraternity. This semester the chapter members voted to become alcohol-free after a recommendation from the national headquarters of SAE. This means that no alcohol is allowed on local SAE property.
With all these new alcohol policies, the face of future fraternity and sorority life at MSU remains uncertain. “We are in a very big transition period … But it is calmer … I’m honestly so curious to see how it’s going to pan out within the next few years,” said Kyra Morrissey, a member of the Alpha Omicron Pi sorority.
Since sororities are often involved in fraternity events, Morrissey offered a unique perspective of fraternity life over the past year at MSU. “I never once went to a party [at a fraternity] where you walk up to a bar and get whatever you want … It’s not like they’re handing out drinks — it wasn’t even like that before all this happened,” Morrissey recalled. “I feel so much safer going to a fraternity party than a house party … I’ve never once felt threatened at a party by a Greek male,” she added.
Morrissey also emphasized the role philanthropy and academics play in sorority and fraternity life. All fraternities and sororities support some type of a charity, and the GPA in the Greek system is higher than the campus average. “People have this misconception, I think, that the only thing about the Greek system is that we party, and it drives me crazy,” Morrissey said.