Should Drug Use be Allowed in a Fraternity House?


Drug use should not be allowed in a fraternity house.  Drugs are illegal and drugs on fraternity property puts the entire chapter at risk.  It also is sure to turn-off members and potential members who don’t agree with drug use.

I received this question recently:

My chapter is very small. Less than 20 members. We currently have an issue that I do not know how to solve. Let me outline the situation. Our chapter does not have an official house because we do not have the funds to have an official chapter house. So there is always a house that a few members of the chapter rent that we call our house and put letters on. We have one big issue right now though and that is that everyone living in the house likes to smoke weed inside of the house. It has become a multiple times a day type of thing where no one there wants to clean or go out and do anything other than smoke, but we aren’t going to kick out members for smoking weed because no one does that. At the same time the exec team can’t really say no smoking in the house because only a few members actually live there. I do not know the solution to this problem. Please help.

I probably have a perspective on this that is common.  Frankly, I don’t care what people do in the privacy of their own home as long as it doesn’t hurt someone else.  If they want to do drugs, knock yourself out.  That said, I don’t like drugs and don’t want to be around it.

While I think most of your brothers probably feel the same way, it presents a challenge for the organization.  And while you think your situation is difficult, it really isn’t.

If you are calling this house your fraternity house, you cannot do drugs there.  There can be no room to debate this rule.  It has to be a hard rule.

I had to deal with this type of situation first-hand as a chapter president.

We had an off-campus fraternity house.  Our chapter had a hard rule that there would be no drug use in the house.  One brother refused to adhere to this rule.  The first time he broke the rule, everyone got pissed off at him.  The second time it was worse.  The third time we kicked him out of the house.

When we kicked him out of the house, he got bent out of shape and quit the fraternity.  His academic career spiraled out of control after that, and he eventually flunked out.

During the period when he was breaking the rules, drug exploration became pretty common in the chapter.  It was always done off campus, but definitely caused a divide amongst the brothers.  Almost as quickly as it started the drug phase was over.  The culture of the chapter led the brothers who wanted to use to keep it away from the house and in secret.

While that is an extremely quick overview of what was a painful semester in my chapter’s history, I share that because I know exactly what you are going through.  If you continue on your current path – the following things will happen:

One – it is the membership’s, and especially the leadership’s, job to ensure the future of the chapter.  Drugs in a chapter house is the quickest way to jeopardize your chapter.  The second the house gets busted, and it will eventually get busted, is the second your chapter ends.  There is no gray area in this situation with university administrators.

Two – you never want to turn off your own membership.  There are brothers who don’t want to be around drugs.  They may be ok with you doing it, but they don’t want to be around it.  They may not like it because they disagree with using, or they may not like it because they are afraid of getting in trouble.

Either way, this will lead to a certain part of your membership avoiding the chapter house and the brothers.  This will create a split in your chapter, probably leading to the non-using brothers to quit.

Once the non-using brothers quit, your chapter is dead.  Brothers who use drugs have a much higher probability of flunking out of school.  With half of your brotherhood quitting, and the other half not succeeding, your small chapter will dissolve pretty quickly.

Third – your image will suffer on campus.  Do you really want to be known as the druggie chapter?  Every chapter gets a label.  Reputation is important, especially in a college community.  Having a poor reputation will hurt you when trying to do things with other organizations on campus, namely sororities.  It will also label all brothers as drug addicts, and that isn’t fair to the brothers who don’t use.

Fourth – it will become much harder to recruit with this reputation.  Recruiting is the life-blood of the chapter.  You need to grow to replenish your membership.  Maybe a reason you are stuck at the 20 man level is because of this issue?  Regardless, it is very hard to recruit new members who don’t want to be around drugs in your current situation.

Fifth – you are letting your brothers down if you condone drug use.  Again, I don’t give two farts what someone does on their own time.  But the fact is pretty clear that drug-use is not a healthy habit.  It leads people down a lot of bad roads.  If you aren’t trying to help your brother avoid those dangerous scenarios, are you really doing your job as a brother in your fraternity?  Are you being your brother’s keeper?

It is hard to be that guy for sure.  Confronting your brother on their bad and addictive habits will not be easy.  It could be one of the most important things you do though.  It is impossible in life to predict what could have happened.  Maybe your caring keeps a guy from flunking out of school.  Maybe it helps a guy avoid ending up on the streets as a homeless drug addict.  Maybe it helps him avoid dying by overdose.  You’ll never know what you could be preventing by showing that you care.

The answer is very simple.  Your chapter has to have a hard rule that there cannot be drugs at the chapter house.  If the residents of this house refuse to abide by this rule, then that house cannot be the chapter house.

I worry that your chapter may have a bigger problem though.  If you are stuck at 20 brothers, you have a problem recruiting.  If you have a problem with brothers doing drugs, that is another red flag.  If the exec board can enforce any policies, then that gives me worry.  If you don’t have a stable housing situation, I worry about the longevity of your chapter.

To me, it sounds like your chapter is lacking vision and a purpose.  There is probably a lack of excitement with your brotherhood.  The problems you describe are not the root cause of your issues.  The root cause is apathy in your brothers.

The cure is to get the brotherhood excited to be in the chapter again.  What can your chapter do that will improve morale?  A strong organization has members that are excited to be a part of the chapter vision.

Figure out how to get the brothers excited again, and your problems will go away.  Recruitment will become easier because people will want to be part of what you are doing.  Drug use will go away because that is a time-filler for bored people, not a way of life.  And if those two things happen, your housing situation will improve.

Good luck on your situation.  Deep down, you know what is the right thing to do.  It takes courage and conviction to stand up and do what’s right.  I hope you have the courage to follow that course.


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