Arizona State Fraternities Face Alcohol Ban
MADELEINE BRAND, host:
From NPR News this is DAY TO DAY. Playboy magazine has dubbed Arizona State University one of the top party schools in the country. Well, that's either a dubious distinction or an honor, depending on your point of view, but there's little doubt that the campus' Greek life has helped fuel the school's reputation. But as Rene Gutel of member station KJZZ reports, the fraternities are being told to sober up.
RENE GUTEL reporting:
Twenty-two-year-old Nicholas Yee sits in the ASU Student Union before an afternoon class. Yee graduates in May with a degree in accounting, but he admits that four years ago, he chose ASU, not for its business school, but for his other reputation.
Mr. NICHOLAS YEE (Student at Arizona State University): Most people do not come to this school because it's such a great school like Harvard or Yale. They come to this school because of the reputation of the parties that go on.
GUTEL: Yee is a member of Kal Kappa Epsilon, one of ASU's seven remaining off-campus fraternities, all just north of the university grounds on Alpha Drive. Earlier this month, ASU announced it was banning alcohol at all seven fraternities. Drinking was already forbidden at all on-campus residences. Yee found the news appalling.
Mr. YEE: I think anyone being told that they can't drink at their own house, especially being over 21, is a joke, especially if it's a privately owned house.
GUTEL: But it's not a joke to school officials, who say that while the houses may be privately owned, they're still fraternities and must abide by university rules. Campus police report a 50 percent rise in alcohol-related arrests last year. Many of those arrests occurred, you guessed it, on Alpha drive. This is the closest ASU comes to having a Greek Row. Seven two-story houses made of brick and cement. Strip away the colorful Greek letters and the buildings look more like 1960s-era motels. Sergeant James Hardina stands on the drive on a sunny February afternoon, and Hardina says that's where police go to keep an eye on weekend revelers.
Sergeant JAMES HARDINA (Police Officer): You'd actually see them either walking from their car into the house with a case of beer or whatever, or walking from the house out of the parking lot, holding alcohol.
GUTEL: The ban puts Arizona State on a small but growing list of colleges and universities drying up their fraternity houses. University spokeswoman Leah Hardesty says the ban is only temporary until each of the seven fraternities comes up with a risk management plan to ensure responsible drinking. Most of the guidelines the fraternities should already be following, but Hardesty says they haven't been.
Ms. LEAH HARDESTY (Spokeswoman for Arizona State University): They are not managing their events well, and if we had better management policies in place, then a lot of the violations could be prevented.
GUTEL: But 21-year-old Kyle Amanger(ph) says the opposite is true. They've been following their policies more closely than ever. He's the chapter president of Sigma Chi, one of the Alpha Drive fraternities.
Mr. KYLE AMANGER (President of Alpha Chi Fraternity): They're portraying us like the movie Animal House, when in reality that's not the case.
GUTEL: Amanger points out that the arrest numbers school officials refer to were for the whole campus, not just Alpha Drive. He thinks the crackdown has more to do with that pesky list from Playboy.
Mr. AMANGER: It's into the administration's vision to turn Arizona State into the new American Research Institute rather than Arizona State the party school.
GUTEL: But school officials say that's not the issue. Safety is. Craig Zobish(ph) is a junior and president of the Inter-Fraternity Council, which oversees Alpha Drive and 13 other fraternities. He supports the temporary ban.
Mr. CRAIG ZOBISH: It's a good thing for us to take a look at ourselves, to make sure that nobody gets hurt and everyone can have a good time.
GUTEL: Since the ban, it has been quieter on Alpha Drive and on the rest of campus. A few nights ago the 10:00 o'clock hour was serene.
For NPR News, I'm Rene Gutel in Phoenix.