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April 07, 2015

Rutgers bans frat and sorority parties for rest of semester

Ban follows several alcohol-related incidents, including a death. Students critical of decision.

Higher Education Rutgers
04072015_Rutgers_AP Mel Evans/AP

Rutgers University housing

After several alcohol-related incidents, including one death, Rutgers University has banned fraternity and sorority house parties for the rest of the spring semester. 

The ban applies to all 86 of Rutgers' recognized fraternities and sororities.

While the Greek organizations will be allowed to hold their year-end "formals" and other off-campus events, all other parties must be cancelled. Failure to do so could result in disciplinary action from the Rutgers Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs, or OFSA. 

"Rutgers takes seriously its commitment to maintaining a healthy and safe campus environment," Rutgers spokesman E.J. Miranda said in a statement reported by "In light of a number of alcohol-related incidents this year involving Greek organizations, the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs has placed a moratorium through the end of the semester on parties in fraternity and sorority houses." 

Reaction from Rutgers students was swift on social media and on campus:

"I feel it was a bit of a harsh decision, but it's understandable due to all of the negative publicity Greek life has incurred nationally as well as at Rutgers in the past two semesters," said Alec Blihar, a member of Greek life at Rutgers.

"I just feel that it's a tough battle for Rutgers to pretend that things haven't happened in a media sense, but I don't believe grouping all of Greek life together is fair either. This is a perfect example of stereotyping all of Greek life for a few groups that have been put in a poor light, even if not necessarily by choice."

Blihar explained that, contrary to popular belief, not all of Greek life is about the social aspect.

"My organization has been trying to show that not all Greek life is about partying. We try to give back to our community by donating our time to soup kitchens and hosting fundraisers."

One Rutgers student, who requested to remain anonymous, said students are now wondering where they will go on the weekends.

"A lot of people are upset about the ban," she said. "When they go out on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, that's where they go. A lot also think it's ridiculous because only a few fraternities and sororities have had problems, but they are placing the ban on all of them."

She also noted that if there are no parties going on at the fraternity and sorority houses, more students will be on the streets looking for a place to go for the night.

Students on Twitter were also critical. 

The ban is a result of several alcohol incidents at Rutgers fraternities and sororities, including one that resulted in the death of a student, school officials said.

In September, Rutgers student Caitlyn Kovacs, 19, of Monmouth Junction, died of alcohol poisoning after friends took her to the hospital after seeing her in distress at a party at the Delta Kappa Epsilon house in New Brunswick. Authorities did not say if Kovacs was drinking at the house or elsewhere that evening.

Delta Kappa Epsilon, the fraternity where Kovacs attended a party before her death, has been suspended by Rutgers pending a university review, Miranda said. Another five unnamed Rutgers fraternities are also facing campus discipline reviews for alcohol-related incidents.

The presidents of all 86 organizations and other Greek life leaders were informed of the ban Wednesday during a meeting with university officials in New Brunswick. 

About 10 percent of students on Rutgers' New Brunswick-Piscataway campus are involved with fraternities and sororities, according to officials.

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