Local News

UNC Chapel Hill Investigates Underage Drinking

Posted June 11, 1998

— UNC Chapel Hill has experienced several tragedies in the past few years in which alcohol played a factor. The university is currently investigating whether underage freshman are drinking during their summer orientation, and if two fraternities provided the alcohol.

Two years ago, five people died in the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity house in a fire after a graduation party. Alcohol was listed as a factor in their deaths because they did not wake up in time to escape. Another drinking-related incident involved an underaged student who fell from a building. These deaths caused the university to make sweeping policy changes.

UNC-Ch has a number of programs to combat binge drinking and underage drinking. The campus fraternities also follow a no alcohol policy during Rush periods, which take place the first two weeks of every semester.

Two UNC-Ch fraternities stand accused of inviting underage students to drinking parties during a freshman orientation session. Alpha Tau Delta and Phi Kappa Sigma allegedly passed out fliers to the incoming students on the night of their parties.

"We heard from some of our orientation leaders that some of the freshmen who were here for orientation appeared to have consumed alcohol, and in particular that orientation leaders saw fliers being distributed in the union where the orientation was taking place," vice chancellor of student affairs Dr. Susan Kitchen said.

Phi Kappa Sigma said that it posted fliers for its party, and some freshman may have been among the 250 people in attendance, but none of them were served alcohol. However, the freshmen may have brought their own beverages onto the premises.

"I could have been sitting next to one that was drinking and I didn't know he was underage," Phi Kappa Sigma fraternity member Nick Richitt said. "I'm not carding these people."

Alpha Tau Omega said that it did not serve alcohol to any freshmen, or even let them on their property with alcohol.

The fraternities that allegedly handed out flyers were also accused of targeting the freshman girls.

"Everybody in this fraternity feels that that's a travesty to women," Alpha Tau Omega fraternity member David Somers said. "That's just disgraceful, and not true at all."

UNC-Ch has launched an investigation into this situation, and are looking at three things in particular:Did the fraternities serve alcohol to minors?Did they let minors drink on their property?And were they holding Rush functions before the official Rush period?

The university does not know how long this inquiry will take, or if any penalties could be handed out.

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