Soap and Things
One of the classic lines of the Sigma Chi song A Howling Sigma Chi is “charge up drinks to soap and things”. This, of course, means buying alcohol. Most brothers engage in drinking alcohol during their college careers. So Sigma Chi, among other things, is steeped in a drinking tradition.
While drinking in and of itself is not a bad thing, too often young brothers engage in it too frequently and too much which wreaks havoc on their grades and the chapter house. For some, it means the end of their college career and, for others, their life.
In truth, alcohol consumption is the leading cause of chapter problems. At minimum, it leads to loud and disorderly behavior and at its extreme, leads to assault, rape, vandalism and other felonious activity. In other words, little good comes from it when it’s practiced at this age level. Why? According to motivational speaker Mike Green, too many brothers engage in competitive drinking. The goal is to see who can drink the most and the fastest. There are many activities like “beer pong” and “keg stand” where the specific goal is to get drunk.
Also, many young brothers tend to be shy while naturally attracted to the ladies. To break down the shyness, they engage in heavy drinking before they head to the bars hoping to get lucky.
So, one of the biggest and ongoing problems house corporations must deal with is the effects of alcohol on the chapter house and the membership. Tenants that are drunk and disorderly tend to break things, not clean up and run short of rent money. Brothers and pledges that binge drink fail to make grades which could
disqualify them from living in the chapter house or from college altogether. Then there is the brother that engages in drunken behavior that results in extremes like death, assault and rape. When this happens, all too often, the chapter circles the wagons around these individuals in a misguided effort to be brothers. Police and college administrators view gang mentality dimly and press for closing the chapter as the most effective solution.
So what part should a house corporation play in controlling such destructive behavior? Where the house corp acts as a landlord or is signing a lease on behalf of an active chapter, there is an obligation to hold brothers accountable for illegal activity. Since it is generally true that the majority of undergraduate brothers are
underage, the majority of them are drinking illegally whether they get intoxicated or not. And there is an ever present danger that at any given moment it all may spin out of control.
Some advocate having a “dry house” policy under the theory that if alcohol is banned, there will be no drinking or, those found guilty will be evicted. In most cases, the dry house concept is hatched by alums that have no interest in enforcement. There in lies the rub. Unless the undergraduate brothers are willing to selfdiscipline, a no alcohol policy is dead on arrival. An alcohol policy that is devised by active chapter and enforced internally has the best chance of success. That policy needs to acknowledge the authority of local laws, university and Sigma Chi policies and have real consequences. This is where the house corp can assist with enforcement like a Member Review.
While the ultimate solution to the alcohol problem may seem to be total prohibition (and we all know how well Prohibition worked), reality points to a hybrid policy where Active Chapter is empowered to control this behavior with the house corp in the background ready, willing and able to be an iron-fisted landlord when necessary.
This is a serious issue that demands serious discussion. Winking at “soap and things” never diminishes the tragic consequences of out of control drinking. IHSV