On Wednesday, April 1, the Interfraternity Council (IFC) discussed a new safety policy, which includes prohibiting alcohol over 40-proof at fraternity events. IFC will officially vote on the document at their next meeting on April 16, if voted into effect, the changes will be enforced at fraternity events with alcohol.
The need for policy revision arose due to conflict over a section within the policy regarding the right of University Police to enter fraternity houses to perform safety compliance checks. While the document did not directly state that police were allowed to enter a fraternity house, that was how the policy had been interpreted and enforced in the past.
The new policy states its intention “to advance the relationship between [MSU’s] local chapters at the University and to ensure the safety and wellbeing of MSU students who attend fraternity events with alcohol.” The policy requires the presence of a Safety and Compliance Team at all fraternity events where alcohol is present.
Rather than the police conducting compliance checks, the Safety and Compliance Team will work with the hosting house’s Chapter Safety and Risk Team to perform safety checks before and during events. The safety checks include evaluating noise level, occupancy and level of intoxication as well. If necessary, belligerent guests will be reported to the police.
According to Dillon Haskell, president of the Sigma Chi fraternity, the policy became problematic around four years ago when police started to strictly enforce the fire code occupancy capacities at fraternity events. Additionally, police strictly enforced alcohol policies upon entering. Fraternities were upset about being forced to let police enter their residences, and they began to deny entry.
This caused issues with both the police and the Office of the Dean of Students (DOS), leading to revision of the policy. Fraternities and the DOS worked together in the revision process, drafting a document that Dean of Students Matt Caires believes is much more effective up-to-date than the old policy. “I think we’ve taken a big step into the 21st century,” he said.
The Chapter Safety and Risk team includes four sober members of the host chapter present at events. The newly established Safety and Compliance Team includes the IFC Sergeant of Arms, two fraternity members who are not part of the host chapter, a female student and a representative from the DOS.
The new document states that “the DOS representative’s goal is to provide another perspective to the Safety and Compliance Team and to help address issues as they arise.” The team cannot issue Conduct Code violations, only evaluate the event safety and remedy problems that may arise. The team does however have the right to contact authorities to address safety issues beyond their control.
“We want more than compliance with rules; we want safety,” Matt Caires said.
Hosting fraternities have the right to request that a Safety and Compliance Team member not behaving in a professional manner be replaced.
Also included the new document is a policy which prohibits alcohol over 40-proof at fraternity events.
The document has been seen by legal counsel and discussed with University Chief of Police Robert Putzke.