Most police calls to greek houses are for vandalism, not drinking violations

Editor's Note: We've updated information included with the attached chart to better reflect the types of police runs to the greek addresses. The story has also been updated to reflect that 178 reports were filed with the University Police Department in the last five years regarding greek houses.

While many people view greek houses as places with out-of-control parties, full of illegal alcohol violations waiting to be discovered, a review of University Police Department reports shows that alcohol isn't fraternities' and sororities' biggest concern.

In the last five years, there have been 178 University Police Department runs that resulted in police reports to 13 greek houses on Riverside and University avenues.

Information obtained through an Indiana Access to Public Records Act request showed that only nine reports were made for alcohol-related offenses and four were for sexual battery and assault.

There were 69 reports of criminal mischief, the most common case. The second highest crime shown in the police reports was theft, with a total of 33 reports, which also makes the organization who filed the report the victim.

Nathaniel Hunt, president of Sigma Phi Epsilon, said he admits Fraternity Row is an area to party. But at least it's contained in a concentrated area.

"There's a name to this group of people who throw parties and have alcohol[-related] problems," the sophomore actuarial science major said. "I don't think that we cause any more trouble as far as alcohol violations or parties or vandalisms than the rest of the community does."

On Aug. 22, police were dispatched to the fraternity house at 1101 Riverside Ave., because someone had reportedly poured purple paint on two white lion statues in front of the house. White paint was then poured onto the porch of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon house, where it leaked under the front door and damaged hardwood floors within the house.

Brandon Cutler, assistant director of Student Life, said he thinks there are two reasons for the amount of criminal mischief. He said some rivalries exist between fraternities, but it could be easy for anyone to vandalize the greek homes since "they don't have a face."

"If you walk up to a home, you know that a person owns that home; a person pays that mortgage ... you know that that is someone's personal property," he said. "You're probably not going to throw a brick through their front window."

Gene Burton, director of Public Safety, said alcohol usage and other problems with members in the organization can also manifest into criminal mischief.


Burton said he's seen improvement in behavior in the greek community in the last eight or 10 years.

"It comes from the university," he said. "Kids haven't changed themselves, but they have bought into the university's program that we're going to be more responsible. We're going to do things right and monitor these things. Fraternities, to their credit, have stepped up for the most part to do that."

The Interfraternity Council has guidelines in place to hold its members to higher standards.

Some of the guidelines include rules that limit one guest per member, regulate insurance policies and designate a number of members who have to stay sober during parties. Each greek organization also has a personal risk manager to help address problems that come up.

Kyle Koppelmann, IFC vice president of risk reduction, said the programs the council provides help educate not only chapter officers but also new members.

"Greek life isn't all just about drinking and partying like the typical stereotype," the junior criminal justice and legal studies major said.

Many of the organizations hire off-duty police officers to help check identification to assure all guests are of the legal drinking age and to maintain a safe environment.

Burton said UPD does not allow its officers to work off-duty for greek life parties, because it can cause a conflict of interest. Officers' primary job responsibility needs to be in agreement with UPD and not its employer for the night of the party.

IFC president Zach Hartley said the risk management program serves an important purpose.

"One of the things of greek life is we want to hold ourselves to a higher standard and [be] more accountable than the average student or person," he said. "By enacting those policies, it helps us to do that."


Hunt said he thinks the first step to breaking the stereotype is constantly bettering greek life's image on campus.

"Dressing nicer. Holding the door open for people. Participating in class. Getting to know professors. Being courteous and kind to other Ball State students. Talking to people," he said. "Not only do we have to get the grades and show that we are here as students first, but acting on campus the way that we want to be seen is also essential."

Hunt said when Sigma Phi Epsilon goes to events on campus as a group, they try to dress "business casual" so they can show they hold themselves to higher standards.

Koppelmann said he thinks the stereotypes are reinforced by people seeing negative stories in the media and in movies.

"But 9 times out of 10, you never hear about the thousands or millions of dollars that greek organizations nationwide raise for philanthropies, not-for-profit organizations, the amount of community service we do [and] the higher GPAs that a lot of us obtain," he said. 


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