The Best Of – Past National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week Posts

Five Key Points When Planning Events Where Alcohol Will Be Present

By Marc S. Mores, Executive Vice President – James R. Favor & Company

Alan: “I tend to think of myself as a one-man wolf pack.” – The Hangover

Mixing brotherhood and alcohol happens every day on college campuses across the country.  Often times, our brothers fail to appreciate the fact that their own “one-man wolf pack” actions and decisions do impact our Fraternity.  The choices surrounding your own personal alcohol use are yours to make, but you can have a positive impact on the safety of your brothers when you consider these five key points when planning events where alcohol will be present.

1.  Location

Deciding where to host a social event or where to hang out with your brothers is of utmost importance.  Ideally, should you choose to drink alcohol, you would do so in an establishment that is properly licensed to sell alcohol. The venue would absorb the risks of controlling, selling, and serving the alcohol. When spur-of-the-moment or even planned events occur elsewhere (i.e. a brother’s apartment), you and/or your chapter could be liable for the events that take place. Just this year we have seen an intoxicated fraternity member shoot a bottle-rocket out of his rear end and a group of sophomores use a water balloon launcher to hit unsuspecting targets all in the name of fun but end with severe injuries and unintended consequences.

2.  Transportation

Many chapters are using designated driver or safe-ride programs to address this key exposure in today’s Greek community.  These programs are a strong attempt to ensure brothers get home safe.  Unfortunately, no matter how well-intended, there have been a variety of significant injuries and even deaths when these programs do not strictly adhere to their design.  The best choice is to use public transportation for those events that occur more than 10 miles away from your campus.  Members who choose to drive themselves and others in their personal automobiles must understand they do so at their own risk as no insurance coverage is available to them for this exposure.

3.  Beverages 

At events, chapters should never provide alcohol for their own members or for guests. Using chapter funds or passing the hat violates the Fraternity’s risk management policies. Remember to avoid the use of hard liquor and the mixing of energy drinks with alcohol. If you decide to not use a third-party vendor, each person should bring their own beverage of choice. Given that the clear majority of collegiate fraternity and sorority members are under the legal drinking age, Chapters should offer alternatives to alcohol such as complimentary bottled water or other appropriate beverages.  Food at any event is a welcome addition but you want to avoid salty foods whenever possible.

4.  Pre-Gaming 

Pre and post event activities are commonly misinterpreted as the time where no rules apply. Phi Delta Theta’s risk management policies do not come with a time clock or an expiration date.  Each member is expected to understand, comprehend and adhere to the risk management policies at all times.  If you are unclear ask the chapter’s risk management chairman, president, or a local adviser to review them with you. Younger members commonly use this time to binge drink prior to the registered or planned events. Big brothers or pledge dads should help monitor these activities and step-in when necessary to ensure all members avoid this risky behavior and stay safe.

5.  Event Planning

Phi Delta Theta General Headquarters offers assistance in planning your events to ensure your chapter is in compliance with the rules and regulations of the Fraternity.  The Headquarters staff offers feedback to assist chapters in planning safe events that reduce the potential for loss.  Contact Melanie Clayton at Phi Delta Theta General Headquarters (melanie@phideltatheta.org) or visit www.phideltatheta.org for additional information.  You can also visit www.jrfco.com for risk management resources.

While you may get a good laugh out of characters like Alan from The Hangover, repeating the antics you watch on the big screen can lead to real world consequences. Remember to not let today’s fun turn into tomorrow’s evidence.

Fraternity Men Who Choose Not To Drink – A Misconception

By Michael Boulter

Full disclosure: I have never had an alcoholic beverage. That being said, you’re probably wondering why someone who has never had a drink is writing about alcohol awareness. Just as there are misconceptions associated with alcohol, there are misconceptions surrounding those who choose not to drink – misconceptions that, when cleared up, can help us to build a stronger, healthier brotherhood.

When others learn that I’ve never had a drink, often times they rush to figure out why I “condemn” alcohol and those who choose to drink.  It can be frustrating to be written off at times for my choice to not drink. What they find soon after, however, is that it’s just that, a personal choice. I look forward to going out with my friends and having a good time. Being sober doesn’t keep me from having a good night out, and by no means do I expect others to make the same choice to abstain from alcohol.

I’ve seen fraternity chapters, however, where a schism has appeared. This level of mutual understanding either hasn’t developed or has gone by the wayside. It becomes a battle of those who enjoy a drink versus those who choose not to – a battle of brother versus brother. One group begins ostracizing those who “are irresponsible”, while the other group starts judging those who “hate fun”. As brothers, neither group is in the right.

This rough relationship is all too often the result of a lack of accountability and a consequence of knee-jerk reactions. As we’ve frequently heard, alcohol awareness in fraternities is a matter of taking ownership of your actions and the actions of your brothers. What does it say about our brotherhood if, instead of choosing to come together and find a middle ground, we choose to draw party lines?

There’s nothing more powerful than having a real one-on-one conversation and letting a brother know that you care about him. How often do instances of a brother going too far with his drinking end with a genuine conversation with him the next day? Instead, how often is that brother pushed aside, talked about, or taken to the judicial board? My hope is that we, as brothers who choose not to drink, can have these conversations and show concern without ever condemning our brothers or pushing them to the side.

And, on the other end, how well are these conversations, when they do happen, received? This is where I’d like the misconception about those who don’t drink to be cleared up. It’s not that those who choose to not drink see themselves differently. There isn’t a holier-than-thou attitude that comes with this choice. Instead of seeing these conversations with your brothers who don’t drink as someone’s attempt to levy judgment on you, do you see it as an authentic display of care and compassion?

I know that we can reach this level of mutual respect. It’s tough to sit down with a brother and let him know that you’re concerned when his drinking caused him to go a little too far. I can only imagine how hard it is to be on the other end, choosing to listen and take what he’s saying to heart. It’s this level of understanding that allows us to foster a true sense of brotherhood.

Brother Boulter joined the GHQ Staff as an Expansion Consultant in 2012 after graduating from Kettering University with a degree in Electrical Engineering. While at Kettering, Michael served his chapter, Michigan Delta, in a number of roles. Guided by his work as President, his chapter won the Kettering President’s Cup in 2011. While serving as Recruitment Chairman, he completely revamped his chapter’s recruitment program, which led to their largest pledge class in 20 years. Michael was a delegate to both ELI and PLC and returned to both conferences the following year as a Peer Mentor. Outside of Phi Delta Theta, he was President of the Running Club and Recruitment Chairman of IFC, a position in which he was recognized as the Officer of the Year. Being an Iron Phi, Michael is an avid runner with a 5 year “running streak”.

Don’t Play Doctor!

Phi Delta Theta works hard to protect our members and educate them about the risks and legal consequences of underage and binge drinking. And while our expectation is that our members obey the law as well as the policies of our Fraternity, we are also aware of the unfortunate reality that some choose to abuse alcohol and put themselves or others in danger. Every year more than 4,000 people die from an alcohol overdose. Nearly 42% of those deaths are college students; a staggering statistic that could be much lower if students were knowledgeable about how to take proper action when such situations arise.

This week is National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week, a week that is dedicated to promoting education, research, and initiatives that will help eliminate alcohol abuse on college and university campuses. Phi Delta Theta is committed to this cause and in an effort to educate our members about what to do if a brother has had too much to drink, the Fraternity is proud to share its video: Don’t Play Doctor.


Don’t Play Doctor was produced in 2009 by Phi Delta Theta Fraternity to remind our members not to play doctor when a brother or friend is in need of help. The video identifies the signs and symptoms of alcohol poisoning and encourages all of our members to “be their brothers’ keeper and get professional help.”Two years later, Don’t Play Doctor is being used as an educational tool by other fraternities, universities, and insurance companies to educate undergraduates on these important concepts. As Phi Delts, we enjoy life by the help and society of others, a statement that must be remembered when a brother’s life depends on it most.

We encourage risk management chairman to view the Don’t Play Doctor processing questions so that they can facilitate a good conversation with their members about risk management, crisis management, and intervention.

A Deeper Look Into Alcohol Awareness

By Jake Byczkowski

I’ve never agreed with the formal definition of ‘binge drinking,’ I think it limits the debate and understanding of what problem drinking really is. The CDC defines binge drinking as four or five drinks in two hours. A few weeks ago I went to a baseball game with my father. Throughout the game he and I had two 16-ounce beers each. After the game we went to a bourbon bar across the river and each had a glass of bourbon, maybe an ounce apiece. I’m sure that by official definition my father and I were both binge drinking that evening. My father is in his 50’s, and baseball, beer and bourbon is just an interest we both share. And I am not about to tell a successful, healthy, 50-year-old man that having some drinks during and after a baseball game with his son is a bad idea. Neither of us were reckless that evening. And it’s not like as soon as we crossed the threshold of that fourth drink that we all of a sudden were exponentially more likely to do something ridiculous, like heave hotel furniture off a fourteenth floor balcony. Even if we did decide to end our evening by throwing hotel furniture off of a fourteenth floor balcony, I can assure you that our decision to do so was heavily influenced by something other then the few drinks we had at a baseball game.

To often do I feel that Alcohol Awareness is accompanied by terms like “binge drinking” and other numbers and statistics used to describe the habits of college students. When we bombard students with these numbers it is easier to ignore them, then to try and decipher their meaning.

I think we need to change the way we think about what alcohol awareness is and what problem drinking really means. Alcohol Awareness is not shouting numbers and stats at students. And though that may not be it’s intent, as a recent college graduate I can promise you that’s what it can feel like. Alcohol Awareness needs to be used as a platform to facilitate some sort of internal dialogue with each individual student. The problems that students experience due to their alcohol consumption cannot always be defined by numbers, rather, they are defined by actions.

When I was in college I was a serious problematic drinker. But because of these numbers it was easy for me to watch the behavior of my peers and decide that my drinking, in fact, was not problematic. Everyone around me was drinking the same as I was. What I failed to recognize was that though I was drinking just as much as everyone else I knew, alcohol had a different effect on me than others. One particular quarter my behavior had gotten so out of hand that a friend actually sat me down and told me that he felt I had a drinking problem. I thought about what he was telling me and again I found myself going back to these numbers. Yes, by textbook definition I had a drinking problem, but, by text book definition so did he, and so did the rest of my friends. So why was I being singled out? Through some serious self-evaluation, I realized what he was actually saying. He wasn’t coming to me saying, “Jake, you have a drinking problem and if you’re not careful you could become an alcoholic and die.” What he was saying was “Jake, you have a problem, and when you drink you turn into a punk and a jerk and no one wants to be around you anymore.” If we think about what college students experience as a result of their excessive drinking–vomiting, fighting, drunk driving, drunk texting–we can all agree that these are problems that occur when we drink. Rather then trying to convince college students that problematic drinking is related to the number of drinks they have and the frequency at which they have those drinks, we need to get each student to ask one single question. “Do problems often occur when I drink?” The answer to this question is the definition of problem drinking.

My advice to everyone–students, parents, college administrators, siblings and friends–if there is an individual you are concerned about, do not approach them and use these terms. Because trust me, they’ve all heard it before. Speak their language and give them hard evidence, evidence they cannot ignore or deny. If they are the type person that ends up crying in the corner of every party as soon as they get drunk, that is a problem. If they continually get drunk and decide that it’s a good idea to punch something in the face, that is a problem. If they get drunk and embarrass themselves by trying to sleep with every person that crosses their path, that is a problem.

Alcohol Awareness is taking ownership over your own actions as well as the actions of your peers. It is about eliminating problematic drinking by utilizing the personal relationships we have with one another. And finally it is about creating a better, healthier, safer community on each individual campus. A community where individuals take an active role in the fight against alcohol related harm.

As a 2011 graduate of The Ohio State University, and a member of Delta Tau Delta Fraternity, Jake has just stepped out of unique world that is Fraternity and Sorority Life. Throughout his college career, Jake constantly found himself in harmful situations due to his alcohol consumption. Since graduating, Jake has given his time and efforts to figuring out why he continually put himself in harms way and how could he have prevented many of the tragedies he experienced. Jake is now a speaker for CAMPUSPEAK and has devoted his career to speaking to college students about their alcohol use and how to reduce alcohol-related harm.

Underage Drinking And The “Over Aged”

By Adam Ritz

I’ve been asked to write a few articles and blogs since becoming an alcohol awareness speaker.  I always find I do my best writing in the airport.  So hello from Denver International!  I don’t know if it’s the 12 dollar wraps, automatic flush urinals, or the 9 passenger horn-honking golf carts that inspire great writing.  Or maybe it’s the fact that this is the only time that I can focus with absolute 100%  concentration without the distractions of everyday life.  When you have a 3 hour layover in Denver, what else are you gonna do?

As an alcohol awareness speaker, I am constantly following the news wires and national media to discover bad decisions resulting from the use and abuse of alcohol.  One of the more interesting stories of late involved a group underage drinkers.  Underage drinking is against the law, and right from the start, has a tendency to produces negative consequences.  Duh.  I don’t know if you are in the know on this one, but you have to be 21 to consume booze, a fact that used to really bother me until January 1991 when I turned 21.  It’s funny how every person under age 21 is an enormously aggressive advocate for changing the drinking age.  You know the whole argument, “I can die for my country in battle, I can vote, but I can’t drink a beer.”  then something magical happens… You turn 21 and you don’t care at all anymore about the drinking age laws.  There is a 5 year window when you want the drinking age changed.  Age 16 to age 21 is the demographic of this social movement.  Not enough people in this window to change the law, even with 97 University Presidents that agree with the law change because they see 19 year olds dying of alcohol poisoning.  Surely the 19 year old would drink less if it were legal.  At least they wouldn’t have a criminal record for something they are going to do anyway.  Then you turn 21 and you can drink;  so you let the 16 year olds worry about it.  Not your prob anymore.

So anyway back to the underage drinkers.  They were charged with underage drinking, minor consumption, and open containers.  Yes, they were in the car, which means one of them got a DUI.  He was pulled over for nearly hitting a pedestrian on campus.  Oh boy could this have been worse for this young man.  Hitting a pedestrian, causing bodily injury or death, can change lives in a second for so many people involved.  19 year old drinking.  Underage DUI.  Sounds like any weekend at any university in any city.

Okay here’s the kicker… The driver of the car was a 19 year old football player being recruited to play football at the University of New Mexico.  The car he was driving was the SUV of the Head Coach of the football team at the University of New Mexico.  He was driving the coach’s car, drunk, on a Saturday, to the the stadium, on game day.

Just a few bad decisions here, huh?

It took less than 24 hours for the university to fire the head coach.  This was the final straw that the university needed to sever ties with him.

Every time I see a story like this, I try to put myself in the shoes of the people involved.  I imagine all of the scenarios where I could possibly put myself in a similar situation, and think about how I can ensure that I NEVER make the same mistake that they did.  We really can learn from other people’s mistakes.

Let’s put our fraternity shoes on for a moment.  There are so many parallels between this example and the fraternity world. A big brother purchases alcohol for his little brother; an executive board purchases alcohol for a rush party; an alumnus purchases alcohol for a tailgate before the big game. Any “over-aged” person – from a 21 year old member, to a member of the executive board, to the chapter advisory board, to a random alumnus – that enables any underage member of the chapter to drink, is putting himself, the student, and the chapter at risk. The “Coach” and the “Player” are putting their futures and the chapter’s future in jeopardy.

When an underage person is caught drinking, the first thing the police do after that initial arrest of the minor in possession, is find out who helped the young man obtain the alcohol, and then they arrest that person as well.  Don’t be like the coach in New Mexico who enabled his player to drink underage, drive while intoxicated, and almost commit vehicular manslaughter.  This coach is lucky he is not facing a murder trial.

Every decision has a consequence even if it initially seems harmless.  Think before you act, especially when that decision impacts others directly or indirectly.  You always need to keep in mind that you will be held accountable not only for your own decisions but for the decisions of others that you’ve enabled with your actions.

Adam Ritz is a media personality and keynote speaker.  Follow him on twitter @AdamRitz

Don’t Play Doctor!

Phi Delta Theta works hard to protect our members and educate them about the risks and legal consequences of underage and binge drinking. And while our expectation is that our members obey the law as well as the policies of our Fraternity, we are also aware of the unfortunate reality that some choose to abuse alcohol and put themselves or others in danger. Every year more than 4,000 people die from an alcohol overdose. Nearly 42% of those deaths are college students; a staggering statistic that could be much lower if students were knowledgeable about how to take proper action when such situations arise.

This week is National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week, a week that is dedicated to promoting education, research, and initiatives that will help eliminate alcohol abuse on college and university campuses. Phi Delta Theta is committed to this cause and in an effort to educate our members about what to do if a brother has had too much to drink, the Fraternity is proud to share its video: Don’t Play Doctor.



Don’t Play Doctor was produced in 2009 by Phi Delta Theta Fraternity to remind our members not to play doctor when a brother or friend is in need of help. The video identifies the signs and symptoms of alcohol poisoning and encourages all of our members to “be their brothers’ keeper and get professional help.”Two years later, Don’t Play Doctor is being used as an educational tool by other fraternities, universities, and insurance companies to educate undergraduates on these important concepts. As Phi Delts, we enjoy life by the help and society of others, a statement that must be remembered when a brother’s life depends on it most.

We encourage risk management chairman to view the Don’t Play Doctor processing questions so that they can facilitate a good conversation with their members about risk management, crisis management, and intervention.