The Pros and Cons of Common Source
Earlier this semester, the school’s administration introduced measures to punish fraternities for serving common source alcohol. Seeing as BSC is a wet campus, students are unsure of how these rules may affect the fraternity functions that have traditionally served alcohol for the past several years.
Kyle Lo Porto, Assistant Director of Student Activities, explains that "common source is when an organization provides alcohol to a guest at their event.” He went on to say that common source tends to appear often at open fraternity parties, where organizations feel they need some way to draw guests to their events.
While the school is able to give this clear-cut definition of common source, some students are confused by the change of rules. Since the administration has changed its stance on the subject, some students are hesitant to believe that the rules are as straightforward as they appear to be.
"Common source has been redefined several times by our school, and the student handbook shows their lack of clarity, in a sense," an anonymous fraternity member says. "Birmingham-Southern College has started incorporating any distribution of alcohol, at all, even when the organization is not implicitly purchasing or distributing the alcohol. When one container of alcohol is handed to another person, that is affiliated with the organization, [and] that is [now defined as] common source."
Historically, the administration has always been opposed to common source alcohol, but punishments were varied due to a lack of precedent in the handbook. Greek conduct boards (made up of all 6 fraternity presidents, plus the Interfraternity Council [IFC] VP of Judiciary, IFC President, and Kyle Lo Porto) would hold hearings and hand out punishments as they saw fit. The new rule incorporates punishments for fraternities that serve common source, which includes losing three events and being put on probation for the remainder of the term and the next term for the first offense. If there is a probation violation, then there is a risk of the house being shutdown. It seems that one of the biggest changes for the fraternities is working with sororities to have them refuse common source and report it when they see it, a rule the presidents all agreed to adopt.
"It is a very tough situation since it is such a long history for certain events," Lo Porto says. "Everybody pledged to stop expecting it from sorority side of things and [for fraternities] to stop providing it."
From a risk management standpoint, there is a concern that banning common source alcohol at parties, like mixed drinks and beers, prevents organizations from controlling how much alcohol is being consumed at parties and makes it harder to cut people off. In addition, this ban may encourage activities like pre-gaming and bringing hard liquor into events. Furthermore, there is concern that the ban on common source simply will not stick and that it will get even further out of hand.
"The biggest problem is that there is a row mentality, where all six fraternities feed off each other in order to sustain the social image at BSC," the anonymous fraternity member says. "So if one frat decides to follow a certain policy, unless all the fraternities are also following, it will very likely hurt their social scene and not be a benefit to the greater Greek community."
Feature photo by jamesomalley via Flickr.