Zeta Chi fraternity stays dry

Story by Mykaela Cross, Assistant Editor

In 2007, Zeta Chi was struggling for survival and battled repeated problems with academic probation. Thanks to a stereotype-defying decision, the fraternity now boasts more than 20 members.

The decision? To ban alcohol in the fraternity house. After its road to recovery, Zeta Chi fraternity today remains a dry house.

“Around 2007-08, our membership was down to about six people living in the house, and most members were on academic probation,” Zeta Chi senior Ben Sobek said. “It was a really dark time for Zeta Chi. Had we been a national chapter, we would have been shut down without question.”

The Zeta Chi president at the time, Sam Coffey, his executive board and the Zeta Chi Board of Trustees decided that something had to be done in order to improve the fraternity. The house experimented in different levels of dry, yet the only thing that seemed to improve student academic performance was the “no alcohol on the premises” policy.

“It’s not like everybody in the chapter loved it at the time, but they all understood it and came to know what merit it had in the end,” Sobek said. “It was difficult for a while since it was such a big change, but we’ve come to a point now where at least I really celebrate the fact that we’re a dry house.”

Some students who might otherwise participate in recruitment week are turned away from Greek life due to the stereotypical connection between alcohol and fraternities. Many even fear “alcohol hazing,” which generates negative headlines for some U.S. fraternities and sororities.

Alcohol hazing, according to Sobek, is when students are pressured into binge drinking. When Sobek was a freshman, he was one of the new members who was timid toward alcohol.

“I love Greek life a lot, but I don’t know if I would have been Greek my freshman year had a dry chapter not been available,” Sobek said.

Though Sobek is supportive of fellow Greeks who decide they do want to drink, he is glad that Zeta Chi does not allow alcohol and sees benefits in more areas than academics.

“I never worry about spending too much money on alcohol,” Sobek said. “I have no place to put it.”

Sophomore Zeta Chi member Andrew Emanuels agrees with Sobek’s opinion of the policy.

“Originally, I did not want to join a fraternity here at Baker, but Zeta Chi being dry was a big draw for me because I didn’t want that pressure or that distraction in my life,” Emanuels said. “That’s one thing that is so great about Zeta Chi, it’s a safe place to be.”

As the internal affairs chairman at Zeta Chi, Emanuels deals with many of the rule violations or amendments and personal issues within the house. Even though the first steps toward making Zeta Chi dry occurred more than five years ago, the issue still surfaces in Emanuel’s duties today.

“We actually updated the alcohol policy recently,” Emanuels said. “We never used to have an enforcement clause so that we could do something with the violation information we had. Now we can take action.”

Sophomore Brittney Harmon is a member of Delta Delta Delta sorority and enjoys spending free time at Zeta Chi. She is particularly fond of the connections she forms with the men because they spend more time socializing.

“I think its awesome that they stick to their dry rule and continue keep the policy,” Harmon said. “I can see a lot of brotherhood and quality relationships between them because of the quality time they spend connecting instead of partying.”

Harmon said she feels “genuinely comfortable” at Zeta Chi, but she can see why other sorority and fraternity members might not agree with the policy.

“I see that some of the other fraternities have the stereotypical college parties with the loud music and everything, but Zeta Chi is usually more laid back at the bonfires or whatever the plans are that weekend,” Harmon said.

The policy appears permanent, so future new members will likely experience the same alcohol-free environment.