Elkins, Becky, Helms, Lelia B., and Pierson, Christopher T. “Greek-Letter Organizations, Alcohol, and the Courts: A Risky Mix?” Journal of College
Student Development. 2003, American College Personnel Association. University of Pennsylvania. April 2008
Alcohol is obviously a problem in college Greek life. Not only are fraternities known for binge and underage drinking, but over the past few decades they have also brought alcohol to the courts. The article juxtaposes concern for legal matters with concern for the health and progress of students who engage in more alcohol-related activities than the average person. Heavy drinking has immediate and possible indirect consequences, such as unwanted sexual situations, fighting, drunk driving, and so on. These are the cases that lead to legal matters, some of which involve death. Students have gone to court for alcohol-related cases progressively more and more since the early 1980s. However, fraternity and sorority events still prosper because members admit that “partying and drinking [are] important to them.”
Are films such as Animal House affecting this? They certainly exhibit it. Dean Wormer of Faber College enters the Delta house, and the members are caught with alcohol, despite the failed attempt to inconspicuously hide the beers. However, all Dean Wormer can throw at them are inventions such as double secret probation and empty threats. Delta house is a danger to Faber College’s reputation, but there is not enough authority to stop them from downing alcohol at every chance. The article recommends that the universities take action to protect them legally, but to not let this intrude on or dominate over “ethical obligations to teach students to behave responsibly.” This is where Dean Wormer fails and Delta house prevails. Universities learn from these mistakes, which is why modern institutions such as the University of Pennsylvania has programs such as Fling Safe and organizations such as the Vice Provost for University Life.