SALT LAKE CITY — All University of Utah sorority and fraternity houses will be alcohol free next year thanks to a policy change to the school's Greek Council Constitution.
The majority of the organizations in the Greek system at the university, including all sororities, were already dry, said Luna Koizumi, a member of the Greek Council. The policy prohibits the possession or consumption of alcohol at any chapter or colony's residential properties, including parking areas, common areas and bedrooms.
"All the sororities are dry and alcohol-free regardless of the policy," Koizumi said. "We do have eight fraternities on campus. Three of them are already dry or alcohol free and they've opted to go with that option even before the policy so it really only affects five of the houses."
The new policy also includes provisions about Greek events and parties, including a requirement that there must be two sober chapter or colony officers to help police officers present as well as neighbors and guests. The policy also prohibits sponsor parties that have alcohol-related themes, drinking games or events that encourage "rapid alcohol consumption."
Koizumi said the amendment was apparently proposed by the school administration, the state government officials and members of the Greek Council. The council voted on the issue last year and presented it the the U.'s Board of Trustees Tuesday.
The new policy goes into effect in August.
"I think that we're all moving toward the same goal," Koizumi said. "There really hasn't been any problems, it's just for liability purposes for the U. and for our Greek community. It's just to make the campus a safer place."
Fraternities that wish to request an exception can do so on an annual basis, but must meet certain requirements. They will have to be in good standing and not have received any sanctions from the Dean of Students Office in the previous calendar year, have had no alcohol-related action taken against it by the Conduct Board and its members' average GPA must exceed the U.'s average GPA for male students.
An exception can, though, be revoked "at anytime" if the chapter no longer meets the criteria, according to the policy.
Koizumi said the issue has sparked some debate among those in the Greek community, but most believe the policy is reasonable. They also think the exception criteria is attainable.
"To be honest, there are a lot of different opinions about it, but I think overall everyone is on the same page," Koizumi said. "I think there's always a lot of disputes when you propose new policies and things like that, but I think everyone is on board now."
Lori McDonald, associate dean of students, said the new policy will affect the organizations that own property and was not prompted by any incident or issue.
"It's more of a management issue," she said. "These groups have properties, they are doing a lot of programming, they are providing a lot of leadership for students. There is just a lot of activity."
She, too, said she knows there has been a wide variety of opinions among the approximately 1,800 students in fraternities and sororities, but most seem to understand the importance of risk management. All chapters or colonies are also required to adopt and regularly update a risk management policy under the amendment.
Koizumi said the policy is not meant to impose "some type of opinion" on Greek members, but requires certain qualifications for the privilege of having alcohol. McDonald said she trusts the students will handle the policy well.
"The fraternity and sorority students have always been very good at striving for self-governance and holding each other accountable to their own standards and values," McDonald said.