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Fraternity rush is sobering up: National fraternity conference sets new substance policies

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Beginning Sept. 1, 2019, Duke fraternities that are part of the North American Interfraternity Conference (NIC) will be required to have all rush events be substance free.

Other new policies include limiting events with alcohol to a three-to-one guest-to-member ratio and banning all drinks exceeding 15% alcohol by volume, unless they are served by “licensed and insured” third-party vendors.

These new policies are part of ten new guidelines unanimously agreed upon by the NIC, and members must ensure their documents follow the new guidelines by Sept. 1, 2019. As a trade association, the NIC represents 66 international men’s fraternities, including 15 of those part of Duke’s Interfraternity Council (IFC) and three in Duke's National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC). 

The guidelines were adopted in an effort to “standardize and strengthen health and safety measures” across chapters and reduce the pervasive presence of drugs and alcohol. 

"This is another important step to improve the health and safety for our 385,000 members and their guests," said Judson Horras, NIC president and CEO, in a news release. "This will lead to a more unified prevention and accountability system, resulting in safer communities and refocusing fraternities on brotherhood, personal growth, support, and service."

Matthew Conley, a senior and president of the IFC, agreed with the statement, writing in an email that he thinks the dry rush change will benefit Duke's fraternities tremendously and make recruitment a more welcoming environment. He wrote that although it “will certainly be a big change,” he believes that it was a good decision.

Members of the NPHC did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

The three aforementioned policies on dry rush, the guest-to-member ratio and drinks exceeding 15% ABV are the only "new" rules established by the NIC. 

Conley noted, however, that many of Duke’s IFC fraternities already abide by some of these new rules. 

Emilie Dye, director of student engagement, wrote in an email that although Duke neither alters nor updates its policies based on NIC guidelines, a few of the ten NIC guidelines are already enforced by Duke’s Student Conduct general policies on alcohol outlined in the Duke Community Standard

The University has enforced such policies, according to Dye, which includes requiring students to comply with all federal, state and local laws regarding drugs and alcohol.

Since the IFC is generally not a judicial body, most violations would likely be handled by Student Conduct or individual national organizations.

"If an organization is found in violation of one of these standards, enforcement and sanctioning depends on if it is a University policy violation as well as an NIC violation," Dye wrote. "They could be subject to both University sanctioning and sanctioning from their national organization if the act violates both."

Sue Wasiolek, associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students, wrote in an email that enforcement and sanctioning for University policy violations occur according to a case-by-case process outlined in the Community Standard. The steps typically begin with Student Conduct receiving a report of a possible violation.

Conley noted that the enforcement and sanctioning process for national organization NIC policy violations vary from chapter to chapter.

NIC members with Duke chapters include Alpha Delta Phi, Alpha Phi Alpha, Alpha Epsilon Pi, Alpha Tau Omega, Chi Psi, Delta Kappa Epsilon, Delta Sigma Phi, Delta Tau Delta, Kappa Alpha Order, Kappa Alpha Psi, Phi Beta Sigma, Pi Kappa Alpha, Psi Upsilon, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Sigma Chi, Sigma Nu and Sigma Phi Epsilon.

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