Two hundred people in their best suits and dresses began to serve themselves at the buffet lines full of pasta, chicken and steak.It was a typical formal for Sigma Phi Epsilon.
As the formal continued, the fraternity president received word that someone was ill from drinking too much alcohol. In a matter of minutes, a cab was called, university officials were contacted, and the female student was safe and sound in her residence hall.
To deal with incidents like this, TCU’s Interfraternity and Panhellenic councils established a student Risk Management Team within each Greek chapter this fall to provide better safety at events.
“The team got together and made sure the person was checked on and everything was OK,” said Matt Owens, president of Sigma Phi Epsilon.
Phi Gamma Delta President Drew Corbett said Campus Life, the two councils were responding to an increasing number of incidents at social events.
“It became a liability issue for us, so we sat down and worked together to fix the problem,” Corbett said.
Stephanie Williams, program coordinator for Campus Life, said some fraternities and sororities had already adopted the risk-management team policies through a program called the Fraternal Information Programming Group, which is based in Lexington, Va. However, this semester, all the chapters under the Interfraternity and Panhellenic councils agreed to adopt the policies.
“The presidents took the initiative to lay a foundation and establish communication,” Williams said.
Bradley Beacham, president of Fraternal Information Programming Group, said the group provides risk-management guidelines and educational resources to help members of fraternities and sororities be more effective in preventing incidents related to alcohol, drugs and sexual abuse.
“Throughout the years, I’ve seen more and more efforts from colleges and universities to provide awareness for students and to decrease alcohol-related injuries,” said Beacham, a TCU alumnus and executive director of Sigma Nu Fraternity.
James Parker, assistant dean of Campus Life, said the chapter presidents voted to have at least two upperclassmen within each chapter listed as liaisons with Fraternity and Sorority Affairs.
Parker said the team members are chosen by individual chapters and serve as a line of communication between the organizations and university officials if anything happens at a social function.
The team members are required to attend the entire event, to be educated and trained on procedures for different at-risk situations, to be sober and to be aware of their surroundings at all times, Williams said.
Katie Gordon, president of Zeta Tau Alpha, said her members are more aware of policies after they attend educational programs such as Greek 101, which provides information about issues concerning alcohol.
“Some things were getting out of control, so we decided to do something about it and be proactive,” said Gordon, a senior education major.
She declined to provide specific examples but said some behaviors by fraternity and sorority members were inappropriate.
Gordon said the Zetas have nine risk-management team members who volunteered to alternate at different events and said the team has helped the communication between her members and third-party vendors.
Some, however, have questioned the effectiveness of the team.
Joseph Arnold, a member of Phi Kappa Sigma, said he’s not sure how many upperclassmen are willing to take the responsibility to volunteer and to stay sober at the events.
“Some people can be selfish and go to parties just to enjoy themselves and not to police or baby-sit peers,” said Arnold, a junior history major.
TCU Police Lt. Ramiro Abad said that since the new program has come into effect, the amount of calls made to Greek socials has been average.
Corbett said he understands that the number of incidents has not changed drastically, but he said he feels fewer incidents have occurred.
Corbett said some Fijis are more willing to volunteer because they don’t drink or have class in the morning, and he said the team is not personally liable for any incidents.
Elizabeth Byrd, president of Alpha Delta Pi, said her sorority has 10 team members and did not have problems getting members to sign up.
Byrd said she and the chapter’s team members also have meetings before every social event to discuss possible risks.
Trevor Heaney, president of Kappa Sigma, said the team promotes responsibility and should be continued but said he wants ideas for improvement from non-Greek students, as well.
“It’s not just Greeks that attend our parties,” said Heaney, the newly elected student body president. “Our main goal is to provide safety for all students.