COLUMBIA — MU fraternity members who are 21 or older will be able to legally drink alcohol in their houses beginning in August, and Columbia police are predicting an increase in alcohol-related problems.
The campus Interfraternity Council, which governs fraternities, approved the policy last week. It changes current policy that forbids alcohol in Greek houses, which are not campus property.
Alcohol still will be forbidden at campus sororities, which are prohibited by their national association from having alcohol at their houses, The Columbia Daily Tribune reported.
The new rule will require fraternities to obtain permission from chapter advisers, alumni representatives and property owners before seeking an alcohol permit. Beer kegs and other forms of communal consumption won't be allowed. And fraternity members will be required to undergo risk training and meet some academic standards.
Matt Perkins, IFC vice president of risk management, said the policy was changed because "a lot of people thought it was unfair that 21-year-old people weren't allowed to drink in their own residences."
And the current rules aren't being followed, said Eric Woods, president of the Missouri Student Association.
"If it were fully enforced, almost every house on campus would have some penalty because no one is following it," he said.
Sgt. Jill Schlude said officers routinely respond to fraternity parties where students are drinking and sometimes have trouble getting access to the houses.
"This is going to be a challenge for us," she said. "I don't see any way you can allow alcohol in the house and reasonably expect only those 21 and over are going to partake in alcohol."
A third party, likely a security company, will be hired to conduct random audits to check identifications and make sure students are obeying rules.
"With the audit system, someone has an eye on it, which isn't the case right now," Perkins said.
Last week, the Tribune acquired emails from a University Hospital doctor to Chancellor Brady Deaton expressing concern about the number of excessively drunken students coming to the emergency room. John Yanos cited seven cases, including one in which an underage student had a blood alcohol content of .358, and said he sees similar numbers on a weekly basis.
Columbia police routinely deal with excessively intoxicated students, too, Schlude said. Although she had no specific numbers, "it's definitely not something we're seeing a decrease in. An ongoing problem is excessive binge drinking. We confront that on a weekly basis."