The Collegian
Friday, September 18, 2020

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Fraternity lodge culture to change on football game days

On Saturday, Sept. 18, the dynamics of a typical lodge will be completely different: the parties will start at 9 a.m., and liquor will be permitted.

Lodge events, along with other tailgating sites, will open four hours prior to the kick-off of the University of Richmond's first on-campus football game against Elon University in the new E. Claiborne Robins Stadium.

"The presence of [fraternity] alumni is the only reason why liquor will be permitted," said Alison Bartel Keller, director of Greek life. "It's not going to be the typical 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. lodge party. It's run completely differently."

Fraternity members will monitor all lodge activities in close concurrence with fraternity alumni, Keller said.

The goal is to create an on-campus environment that is similar to the games held at the downtown stadium, Keller said. The games will serve as a catalyst to build fraternity-alumni relations, she said.

"Our insurance treats this as an alumni event that students will also be attending," said senior JonRyan Bartrug, treasurer of Sigma Phi Epsilon. "That's why liquor is allowed."

On game day, all students of legal drinking age who are registered on the lodge guest list will be permitted to check in alcoholic beverages, including liquor, at the lodges.

While tailgating with food and non-alcoholic beverages is permitted on all areas on campus, there are two ABC-licensed parking lots where the consumption of alcohol is sanctioned: lot B3 (formerly J-lot) and lot B5 (formerly Special Events lot), said Steve Bisese, vice president for student development.

Phi Gamma Delta's risk-management team will help manage the liquor element that's not normally present at a lodge party, said senior Andrew Shult, president of Phi Gamma Delta.

The alumni-run lodge tailgate events will follow a strict Bring Your Own Beverage (BYOB) policy, which is a standard rule for any lodge event, according to campus Greek life policies.

"Guests can bring liquor to the table outside of the lodge," Bartrug said regarding Sigma Phi Epsilon's alcohol check-in procedure. "If they're on the list, we will write their name on the bottle and put it behind the bar. A fraternity brother will serve the owner drinks upon request."

Senior Ben Mihalik, president of Kappa Sigma, said that his fraternity's risk team would ensure that underage students would not be drinking inside the lodge.

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Anyone who appears to be heavily intoxicated will not be allowed to enter the building, Mihalik said.

The amount of checked alcoholic beverages permitted in each lodge is determined by the national regulations and insurance policies of each fraternity, Keller said.

There have been discussions with the alumni adviser and insurance company regarding liability issues, Mihalik said.

"We feel every brother is educated enough to eliminate all potential risks," Mihalik said.

Richmond police will be closely monitoring the lodges and registered lots, considering that many students will begin consuming alcoholic beverages in the early morning hours.

"When people wake up and start drinking so early in the day, there's always increased risks," said senior Jack Thomas, president of Sigma Phi Epsilon.

All lodge guests will be required to leave the building 30 minutes prior to the start of the football game, Keller said.

All liquor and other alcoholic beverages that have been checked into the lodges must either be consumed or claimed one hour after the football game ends, Keller said. Otherwise, fraternity members and alumni are required to properly dispose of all residual beverages.

"Students can come back to the lodges after the game and claim their leftover alcohol," Keller said.

Drinking games where accelerated consumption of alcohol is encouraged -- including but not limited to beer pong -- will be prohibited during the tailgate events, according to the official E. Claiborne Robins Stadium tailgating policies. Kegs and glass containers are also prohibited.

"This is the first tailgate, so we're going to need to work out the system," Bartrug said. "We're probably going to be more strict, and the lodges will definitely be more exclusive."

With a large presence of fraternity alumni, the lodges are not going to have enough room to host as many undergraduates, Mihalik said.

Keller said that she had been meeting with the student and fraternity-alumni game day committees since last April to discuss new policies, procedures and liabilities.

"This is new for everybody," Keller said. "We're doing the best we can."

Contact staff writer Fred Shaia at fred.shaia@richmond.edu

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