Dean Announces Moratorium on Alcohol at Greek Parties

Sarah Mourra of The Daily Californian staff contributed to this report.

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UC Berkeley administrators imposed a moratorium yesterday on alcohol at fraternity and sorority parties occurring at chapter houses because of "perennial" violations of university policy and state and federal laws.

In a memorandum to leaders of the Greek community yesterday, Dean of Students Karen Kenney imposed the restriction and said it will last at least through the end of the spring semester.

The memo warns fraternity and sorority chapter heads that violation of the moratorium could result in "the revocation of chapter recognition by the university," a penalty that would likely also lead the national Greek headquarters of a violating chapter to revoke its charter.

"Every party this semester has been in violation of some policy or law," Kenney said in an interview yesterday. "The problems are too multilayered and systemic. It is going to require a whole look at their self-governance and re-examining their procedures."

The Greek community on campus operates autonomously from the university and has its own Judicial Committee to enforce Greek policies and discipline houses that violate them. The committee was revamped last semester and has been making penalties for policy violations more strict, said Interfraternity Council President Greg Smith.

"The sanctions have been tougher because these problems arise time and time again," Smith said. "The same chapters in violation have been sanctioned every semester."

Admitting there has been a lack of change on the part of some chapters, Smith lamented the moratorium would impact the entire Greek community and not just those houses that routinely violate policies and laws.

Kenney said the decision to impose the restriction was based on "risk management." A serious injury at a Greek party last weekend was partly responsible for the new policy, Kenney said. Other violations this semester involved unsanctioned types of alcohol at parties, alcohol-related fights and infractions of fire code.

Kenney has created a committee that will convene this summer to re-evaluate the Greek self-governance system. The committee is chaired by a Greek Affairs officer and a member of Student Judicial Affairs.

The moratorium could be lifted by the start of the fall semester, Kenney said.

Smith echoed hopes that the moratorium would be lifted by the start of the next academic year but pointed out that only a few chapters will be affected by the moratorium since the semester is nearing an end.

But Acacia, a local fraternity, had been planning to include alcohol in a large party for this weekend. The fraternity has already sunk thousands of dollars into the party and begun decorating the house, according to fraternity President Nick Kordesch.

Faced with the option of calling off the party or continuing as planned, but without alcohol, the house decided to go ahead with the party, which is part of fraternity tradition, Kordesch said. He called the timing of the moratorium bad luck.

"We have a pretty decent record with parties that we have had, but we are part of the whole community," he said.

The new policy is not unprecedented, Kenney said. But Smith said he expects the moratorium to effect change.

"We need to take proactive steps in addressing the issues the university has and in coming to grips with the issues our community is having," Smith said.

Berkeley police had been closely monitoring parties at fraternities, but because of budget cuts had to dissolve the "party patrol" just recently.


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