After the hazing-related death of a 19-year-old Beta Theta Pi pledge in February, Penn State outlined certain changes it expected to see in fraternity life. One of those changes was stricter enforcement of underage drinking laws.
"Failure by the Greek-letter organizations to effectively prevent underage consumption and excessive drinking in their facilities and activities may lead the university to adopt further restrictions, including the possibility of declaring that the system must be completely dry," the university warned in March.
Stricter enforcement appears to have occurred at a September party at Alpha Chi Rho, which was already on a one-year suspension. Two 18-year-old women were apparently able to obtain alcohol at the party with little trouble, according to the Centre Daily Times.
According to the report, the two women attended the Sept. 28 Alpha Chi Rho party with friends. According to State College police, they were never asked to show ID and were told that alcohol was available upstairs. Indeed, police claim that several bottles of alcohol were found on the second floor.
One of the 18-year-olds asked for and was given alcohol, police say, which she used to pour drinks for her group. The group then went downstairs to listen to a DJ and then left shortly afterward. They were found down the street by officers and taken to Mount Nittany Medical Center.
They were treated for alcohol poisoning. The women had blood-alcohol content readings of 0.286 and 0.223 percent -- each around three times the legal limit of 0.08 percent, police claim. The women and their friends apparently gave statements to the police.
That incident led to the fraternity being charged with misdemeanor counts of furnishing alcohol to minors and of unlawful acts relative to liquor.
This will likely mean further trouble for Alpha Chi Rho, in light of its existing one-year suspension, which was put in place after a July hazing incident.
From the Center Daily Times article, it seems that no individual students were identified as having personally provided alcohol to the underage women. In some cases, however, both individuals and the fraternity organization will be charged. You should be aware that police are under substantial political and financial pressure to strictly enforce underage drinking laws.
When a fraternity member or a college student is charged with unlawfully furnishing alcohol, it can mean serious trouble at school. If you're convicted of a criminal offense, that trouble can last for years into the future. If you have been arrested for underage drinking, furnishing alcohol to a minor or any alcohol-related offense, you owe it to yourself to discuss your case with an attorney.