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Reasons Why Phi Delta Theta Implemented Alcohol-Free Housing


Bob_BiiggsThe Phi Delta Theta Alcohol-Free Housing initiative came about after years of declining recruitment figures, poor academic performance by our members, deteriorating living facilities, and the alienation of our alumni base.   Most of all, the alcohol-dominated culture that existed on college campuses and within our chapters seemed to be killing what Phi Delta Theta really stood for and what it really meant to be part of this great Fraternity.

  1. Friendship, Sound Learning, and Rectitude are the three cardinal principles of Phi Delta Theta.  However, it seemed that for many of our chapters these sacred principles had taken a backseat, and were no longer the focus of the  members .  Brotherhood in our chapters was suffering and apathy was rampant.
  2. Overall academic performance was weak, at best, as many of our members failed to meet chapter and university scholarship requirements.
  3. Alcohol abuse had led to horrible image damage that curtailed our ability to recruit campus leaders, aggravated campus officials to the point of distrust, and alienated much of our alumni base across the United States and Canada.
  4. Alcohol-related incidents, including deaths, sexual assaults, fights, hazing and vandalism had become all too common.  These horrific incidents became a terrible financial burden and were a major stain on a Fraternity that strives for the development of strong moral character within its membership.
  5. Once majestic Fraternity houses had become shells of their former selves.  They had been trashed by the continuous wear and tear that came with weekend after weekend of parties, and vandalism by members and non-members.
  6. Many house corporation officers, chapter advisers and other alumni had lost the will to fulfill their respective duties and assist chapters with day-to-day operations.  Many were tired of having to constantly deal with problems and wanted a change.
  7. Many members of Phi Delta Theta were acting in a way that did not bring credit to the Fraternity.  Simply put, their actions did not meet up with the Fraternity’s cardinal principles.  The poor actions and lack of accountability of our members was hurting the Fraternity as a whole.
  8. Drastic increases in liability premiums were a concern as well.  These increases were a result of the incidents mentioned above and were a major financial burden for our undergraduates.

All of these factors played an important role in the decision of the General Council to launch the initiative to eliminate alcohol from all chapter facilities by the year 2000.  This decision went into effect for 100% of the Phi Delta Theta chapters in the United States and Canada on July 1st, 2000.   On July 1, 2010 we will recognize 10 years of full implementation of the Alcohol Free Housing program that has had a very positive impact on moving Phi Delta Theta forward as a values based fraternity.  We are proud of the student and alumni members that have embraced the policy to realize our full potential as Brothers in the Bond.

Bob Biggs is from the Georgia Epsilon Chapter and graduated from Georgia Southern University in 1976. He is the Executive Vice President of Phi Delta Theta. Bob has an MBA from Xavier University and has served on the GHQ staff for 32 years. He is involved in interfraternity services, serving on several national boards including the ALS Association (Lou Gehrig‟s Disease). Bob is also a Past President of the Fraternity Executives Association and the Interfraternity Edgewater Conference. He has two children in college while he and his wife, Coni, and their youngest daughter reside in Oxford.

2 thoughts on “Reasons Why Phi Delta Theta Implemented Alcohol-Free Housing

  1. Kansas Epsilon was part of the pilot program preceding the fraternity-wide policy was implemented. I cannot remember if this was a four or fewer year pilot.

    The transition to alcohol/tobacco free was remarkably smooth for Kansas Epsilon. The greatest problem to deal with then was alumni returning not understanding or accepting the change. Within two years this worked itself out.

    I know that being alcohol free has been a selling point for some undergraduates. Parents like this also. The chapter always did well on GPA but appears to be averaging around .20 points higher than pre-2000.

    Wast the pilot a four year test?

  2. With the utmost respect for my brother Roger, I must disagree with some of the alcohol-free policy. The big issue not addressed by this policy is the motive to drink elsewhere and drive home to the fraternity house. Certainly a well conceived sober driving program can mitigate that concern, but if Headquarters feels that brothers have historically made bad decisions in the house when alcohol is present then what reason do we have to believe the decisions become any better off grounds? I submit that insurance costs are the primary reason for the policy and this is little more than a bottom-line matter. That these decisions are being thrust upon the current active chapters by the flower children of the sixties and the “Animal House” brothers of the seventies, strikes me as stunningly hypocritical. An honest conversation with the current active members concluding with a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis is what is needed. Failing that, this is nothing more than sweeping the real problem of alcohol abuse under the preverbal rug of a local pub.

    Very Respectfully,
    Barry Smith

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