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Bring Back the Kegs?

Updates from Lexington

Section III, Item D and H of the Fraternity’s Risk Reduction Policy and Guidelines states:

D. No tap system and/or a keg is present in the chapter house, on chapter property, or at a chapter function (unless the tap system and/or keg is part of a cash bar operated by a licensed and insured third party vendor).

H. No chapter members provide alcoholic beverages to members or guests by selling tickets or cups, by charging admission fees, by taking up a collection (``passing the hat”), or by using any other direct or indirect means of collecting monies from persons attending chapter functions.

For over 25 years, Sigma Nu has prohibited the presence of kegs and other common alcohol sources at chapter events. There has been a lot of discussion and questions about this prohibition over that time.

Why the prohibition?

As stated in the preamble of the Risk Reduction Policy and Guidelines, “Sigma Nu has adopted certain […] policies and guidelines to assist its collegiate members in conducting daily affairs of a collegiate chapter.” Section III (Activities of the Chapter Meet the Following Criteria) of the Risk Reduction Policy and Guidelines is a set of guidelines to assist the chapter in consistently creating events that are both safe and enjoyable.

One of the risk factors for any alcohol function is the risk of attendees engaging in binge drinking. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism “defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels to 0.08 g/dL. This typically occurs after 4 drinks for women and 5 drinks for men—in about 2 hours.” Binge drinking can result in an individual becoming over intoxicated. Overconsumption of alcohol can present a myriad of health and safety concerns.

When drinking from a keg or other common alcohol source, it can be quite challenging to monitor how much alcohol you have actually consumed. A standard alcohol drink is defined as 12 ounces of beer or 1.5 ounces of liquor. Oftentimes a pour from a keg far exceeds 12 ounces and it is close to impossible to accurately measure how much liquor is within a cup from a spiked punch or other mixed drink. So while one person thinks they have had only one drink (i.e. cup of beverage), they may have actually had 1.5-2 drinks in terms of alcohol consumed.

As a chapter, it can be very difficult to restrict access to the common alcohol sources. When doing a BYOB setup, sober monitors can check the ticket, wristband, or whatever system your chapter utilizes to verify that what the individual is consuming is what they actually brought. Impossible to do this with everyone carrying around Solo cups. An attendee is less inclined to hand off their drink to an underage attendee to take a sip from when the attendee is limited to only the 6 beers they brought to the event. This limitation doesn’t exist when the person has access to a full keg or liquor from which they can have an unlimited number of cup refills.

What Are Our Options?

Accepting the fact that kegs and other common alcohol sources remain prohibited, what can a chapter do to have alcohol present at a chapter event? There are two options:

  1. BYOB – permit attendees of legal drinking age to bring their own alcohol beverage for personal consumption. Check out the BYOB Event Checklist for guidance on setting up a BYOB event.
  2. Cash Bar – hire a licensed third-party vendor to facilitate a cash bar in which attendees of legal drinking age may purchase alcohol drinks on a per-drink cash basis. Check out the Third Party Vendor Checklist for guidance on setting up a Third-Party Cash Bar event.

For additional resources on properly organizing and managing chapter social events, check out the Fraternity’s Social Planning Webpage and/or contact your chapter’s Leadership Consultant.


© 2015-2022 Sigma Nu Fraternity, Inc.
9 North Lewis Street, P.O. Box 1869, Lexington, Virginia 24450
Phone: (540) 463-1869 | Fax: (540) 463-1669 | Email: headquarters@sigmanu.org

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