U. of Nebraska Awarded Grant to Curb Greeks’ Drinking

(U-WIRE) LINCOLN, Neb. – The University of Nebraska-Lincoln has been awarded a nearly $300,000 grant aimed at curbing high-risk drinking habits among members of the greek system.The grant project is funded by the U.S Department of Education and provides $293,396 for each of the 2003-2004 and 2004-2005 school years.UNL is one of 13 schools to receive funding under the education department’s grant competition to prevent high-risk drinking or violent behavior among college students.Titled “Greek Reevolution,” the project is designed to create awareness among greeks about habits that contribute to unsafe drinking, says Kris Baack, Assistant Director of Leadership Development for Student Involvement and a member of the project’s steering committee.”The goal is to help the fraternities and sororities become safe learning environments that focus on high-quality members,” she says.UNL decided to do this project after studying the effects NU Directions, another program at NU that aims to cut down on student binge drinking, has had on students, Baack says.While there has been a decline in general campus drinking, the numbers for greek students remain high, says Joel Wiegert, Interim Project Administrator.High-risk drinking has played a large role in group sanctions. Half of UNL’s fraternities are on probation for alcohol violations, according to a release about the project.The results of the study, which won’t be released for at least two years, could be beneficial not just to UNL but to universities nationwide that struggle with similar problems, he says.In changing the alcohol culture to one of responsible drinking, the greek system can also improve its image, Wiegert says.The first year of the project will consist of a pilot group of five fraternities and three sororities.A steering committee composed of university administrators, greek student leaders, greek alumni and prevention specialists will help the group create strategies to change the greek system’s alcohol culture.The project has nine primary goals, Wiegert says.For chapters, the goals are to train leaders to handle alcohol issues correctly, hold members accountable for actions, emphasize smart drinking, recruit stronger members and change the overall culture of the chapter.The alumni’s goals are maintaining consistent and strong involvement with chapters and long-term financial planning.And for UNL, the goals are to focus on forming solutions instead of punishments and creating policies to sustain strong chapters.”The first step is to recognize the importance of change and help individuals recognize change is a good thing,” she says.With that foundation in place, change can occur among individuals, alumni and the chapters as a whole, Baack says.”I love being greek and I am still involved as a greek,” says Baack, who is also the national director of collegiate recruitment for Gamma Phi Beta sorority.