The Greeks are parched. But relief is on the way.
Since April, UC Berkeley has forbidden alcohol at fraternity parties along what is known as Greek row after a spate of underage drinking, fire code violations, injuries and near-brawls last year.
But this summer a group of about 30 students, staff, alumni and community members developed a reform plan that if approved will bring an end to the six-month moratorium.
Last week, UC Berkeley’s Dean of Students Karen Kenney signed off on the plan. Tonight the Inter-Fraternity Council, which represents UC Berkeley’s 35 fraternities, is expected to give final approval.
If the plan passes, the beer could be flowing within two weeks. That moment couldn’t come too soon for many fraternity members.
“I’m looking forward to it,” said Adam Jaffe, a sophomore and member of Zeta Beta Tau.
Before the April moratorium, fraternities faced a series of stringent rules. Security guards and guest lists were required, and partygoers had to bring their own beer or wine coolers, hand the alcohol over to a third-party vendor hired by the fraternity and wait for the vendor to check their identification before getting the beer or wine coolers back.
The new plan tightens the existing rules and adds a new one, according to Kenney. Effective immediately, fraternity leaders will give each house a score for its past adherence to the university’s drinking rules. Those that score well will be allowed to throw off the April moratorium, and begin partying with alcohol. The rest will have to wait.
The scoring system, under the new plan, will continue into the future. Those fraternities that make a poor showing will face possible discipline from the Inter-Fraternity Council as well as traditional sanctions from the university.
Kenney said she approved the plan, largely crafted by the students, because she was impressed by its “thoughtfulness.” She also said the university plans to crack down on fraternities that don’t live up to the new standards.
“We will move swiftly to revoke recognition of chapters,” she said.
But several fraternity members interviewed Monday said the plan amounted to little more than window dressing.
“I think it’s just propaganda to please the university,” said Jessie Dosanjh of Zeta Beta Tau.
Dosanjh said that the fraternities have engaged in “underground drinking” since the ban went into effect and, in a sentiment echoed by several other fraternity members, said that drinking will continue no matter what policies are in place.
But, he continued, lifting the moratorium and bringing alcohol consumption back to the surface will allow for better monitoring and a safer environment.
Matthew Kaplan, vice president of Alpha Epsilon Pi, said he hopes the new rules, combined with open, responsible parties will allow Greek row to polish its reputation.
“This gives us an opportunity to show our true colors as a community,” he said.
Still, some say the university never should have put a blanket ban in place to punish the sins of a few wayward houses.
“I actually thought the ban was pretty severe and undemocratic,” said City Councilmember Kriss Worthington, who has several fraternities in his council district. “I assume the university meant well, but I think it was done with a club instead of a ... fine-tuned instrument.”
Worthington acknowledged that some of his other constituents may have concerns about the resumption of rowdy fraternity parties, but he said plenty of students and older people unaffiliated with fraternities create similar problems.
About 2500 UC Berkeley students participate in the university’s Greek system.