Live Responsibly

Sept. 14, 2007

Task Force on Substance Abuse Prevention
meets with Greek representatives

The Task Force on Substance Abuse Prevention met this week with eight representatives from Greek organizations, including both leaders and lower division members.

The Task Force has spent much of its earlier meetings gathering information about the administration’s current efforts to affect alcohol and drug use on campus and compared what SMU is doing to what happens at other campuses.

Now the Task Force will be talking with people from various groups on campus, beginning with one of the most important groups, the Greek organizations, both for their knowledge of campus life and for their abilities to organize. Rumors to the contrary, the Task Force had not yet discussed Greek organizations, much less decided what approach if any should be taken towards them.

What occurred was a remarkably open discussion of the state of affairs on campus. The students talked about, among other things, what had drawn them to Greek life and its importance on campus, how they have addressed alcohol use among their members, the complications of rush, and problems such as the pervasiveness of fake IDs.

Several themes emerged from the discussion. One was that in the aftermath of last year’s deaths, the level of awareness of alcohol and drug problems on campus has risen greatly. As a consequence, many of the Greek chapters have instituted new policies and have increased enforcement of old policies. At least one organization now has a zero-tolerance policy for drugs.

All have some policy for dealing internally with alcohol violations. Most also recognized that alcohol abuse by first-year students was a big problem — partially related to rush practices — and one that did not have the internal regulation that the organizations provide. Given that there have been 11 hospitalizations this term for excessive alcohol consumption, including students from first-year dorms, and 148 alcohol violations reported by the police, the message that alcohol can be dangerous is not reaching many students.

The student visitors to the Task Force pointed out that most students pay little attention to alcohol education delivered by the University, particularly the online Alcohol 101. As time drew to a close, the question that emerged was how the Greek organizations can become effectively involved with moderating the drinking of first-year students, both through their own practices and by reaching out on their own. Discussion suggests that the Greek organizations will need to play a central role in the Task Force’s eventual recommendations.

It was announced that the “Live Responsibly” site now has a “Comments” page where anyone can write to and about the Task Force’s work.

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SMU News & Communications, 214-768-7650, smunews@smu.edu