The headlines haven’t always been kind to fraternity houses. And realistically, rightly so. The abuses have been nearly infamous and dangerous to both members and guests of the frat house parties. “10 Arrested in Death of L.S.U. Student After Fraternity Drinking Ritual,” the headline reads. “Second frat member arrested on drug charges,” another reads. “Police investigating at fraternity after death of Fresno State student,” another headline states from a 2018 news story.

As a parent of a college student involved in fraternity and sorority life, you have to fear for the safety of your child. But there’s also the reverse of that as well. What about the legal and civil consequences of your child’s role in a fraternity event? Fraternity behavior that results in alcohol-related deaths, assaults and hazing-related injuries or deaths are often involved in litigation.

How can you make fraternities safer?

The question is one that many universities, colleges and the 67 nationally-recognized fraternity organizations have considered. University of Maryland’s Sigma Chi fraternity has created a novel approach to fraternity risk management. They established a risk manager to keep things under control and avoid university sanctions. Some of his tips for a safer frat party experience:

  1. Beer, just beer: Keep the hard alcohol away. Many universities have a beer-only policy for on-campus parties.
  2. Use a doorman: Check IDs to avoid underage drinking. Check for smuggled alcohol.
  3. Food is good: Put out food and water. Eating a snack or a meal before you start drinking will help to slow down alcohol absorption.
  4. Be on the lookout: If someone looks dangerously drunk, call for help. Don’t let anyone get hurt at your party.
  5. Don’t pull an all-nighter: Turn on the lights and kill the music at 12:45 a.m. Your guests don’t have to go home, but they can’t stay here. Help your guests find a sober ride. It’s true that nothing good happens after 1 a.m.

We all want what’s best for our children. We want to keep them safe and out of harm’s way. We also want to keep them out of the criminal justice system. And we definitely don’t want our children to be a headliner in the local police blotter.