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Fraternity Group Opposes Bans on Freshman Rush Designed to Reduce Alcohol Deaths

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A group that represents 75 national fraternities has been successful in opposing college rules that are designed to reduce alcohol-related deaths by postponing freshman recruiting, according to Bloomberg.

The North-American Interfraternity Conference opposed a rule imposed by California Polytechnic State University in 2010 that banned fraternities from recruiting new students. The rule was instituted after a freshman died from drinking beer, rum and 151-proof liquor in an initiation ritual. The conference met with college administrators, paid for a study that opposed the rule, and supported a campaign against it by student leaders. The school lifted the ban this year.

In 2011, nationwide fraternity membership rose to 327,260, from 253,148 in 2005. Currently only 80 of about 800 U.S. colleges with fraternities defer recruiting, according to the conference.

Aaron White, program director for college and underage drinking prevention research at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, says the youngest students are most likely to engage in binge drinking. White male fraternity members drink more heavily than any other group of students, he notes. “The first couple of months of school are a particularly vulnerable time for students with regard to heavy drinking,” White told Bloomberg. “Delaying rush makes a lot of sense.”

Last year, the Interfraternity Conference opposed a federal anti-hazing bill. The group encouraged fraternity leaders at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland to reject a plan to defer recruiting freshmen. The conference also supported the decision by fraternities at the University of Colorado at Boulder to operate without university recognition. The fraternities chose reduced access to campus facilities in order to avoid deferring recruitment and accepting live-in advisers.

After the conference threatened the sue the University of Central Florida for violating students’ freedom-of-association rights, the school lifted a recruitment moratorium that had been put into place in response to excessive drinking at fraternities and sororities.

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