University News

Bartending course focuses on alcohol safety

Popular course encourages frat brothers to distribute alcohol safely, reduce EMS rate

Staff Writer
Monday, March 17, 2014

Brown Student Agencies is working with Greek Council to encourage fraternity brothers to take bartending certification courses, in the hope of reducing EMS incidents at frat parties. The Student Activities Office and the Rhode Island Bartending School have also helped plan the courses, which have been held in the Underground since last semester and cost $100 per person.

“The SAO and BSA are interested in having any party that any of the Greeks host have a sponsored bartender,” said Connor Shinn ’14, executive director of BSA.

Timothy Shiner, director of Student Activities and the Stephen Robert ’62 Campus Center, said he thinks the bartending classes will create a safer environment on campus and provide job opportunities for students.

One goal of the courses is “to minimize underage drinking and unsafe drinking,” he said. “It includes mixology but also how to recognize if someone has had too much to drink and how to check IDs.”

The SAO has been working with Greek Council over the past year, but individual fraternities will ultimately decide if they want to participate in the program, Shiner said.

“This is a program to increase safety and reduce liability for the University, for houses, for groups,” he said. “It would decrease the likelihood that something will happen, which is our main goal.”

But some students have voiced concern that this initiative is part of a growing trend to regulate on-campus parties.

“There is some concern about increased oversight at their parties, but I’ve done my best to be transparent and talk to them about it,” Shiner said.

“If the goal is to decrease underage alcohol consumption, I doubt it’s going to achieve that goal,” said Kevin Carty ’15, a brother of the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity, former Greek Council member and former Herald opinions columnist. “Usually when people get EMSed at a party, it’s because they came drunk,” he said, adding that “decisions to further restrict on-campus parties reflect a willingness of the University to prioritize the concerns of insurance liability over student welfare.”

Though the courses are being advertised to Greek Council members, they are open to all undergraduates. Several students who took the course last semester praised their experiences, though some expressed frustration with finding bartending employment afterward.

“It’s got something to offer everyone,” said Michael Robinson ’14. “If you just want to learn how to do it for your own parties or want to work at a bar for a little bit, it’s a great way to learn about that business and environment. So no matter what your reason is for going, it’s an all-around good experience.”

Students who have completed the course receive a nationally recognized bartending certification and have the opportunity to practice mixing drinks at the Rhode Island Bartending School on Friday nights, he added.

Despite receiving a certification, Robinson said he has experienced difficulty finding jobs off campus, adding that employers have turned him away because he is a second-semester senior and is leaving Providence at the end of the academic year.

The Students of Caribbean Ancestry’s annual Ebony Soiree on March 8 was the first on-campus event that employed students who have completed the course.

“There were four drinks on the menu, and we were given them a week in advance and we just had to learn those,” said Izzy Greene ’17, who worked at the event. “It was nice that the first bartending job I had was at a Brown event. It was fun and kept us interested.”

BSA received positive feedback overall in a survey of students who completed the course, Shinn said.

Looking ahead, BSA plans to hold two more courses this semester, he said, adding that the waitlist has grown to 30 or 40 people.

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  1. “decisions to further restrict on-campus parties reflect a willingness of the University to prioritize the concerns of insurance liability over student welfare.”

    I’m dying to know how preventing alcohol poisoning isn’t prioritizing student welfare.

    The fact that Class F parties are even allowed in University-owned priority is a mystery and probably more a function of dumb luck and on-campus medical intervention than anything. The fraternities should be worried about THEIR liabilities, and that of their national organizations- who will not hesitate to cut them lose if somebody dies as a result of one of their parties. Especially if they had a means to help prevent it and refused because it harshed their buzz, or whatever.

    • *University-owned property

    • Kevin Carty says:


      Yeah, my concern is about safer student parties, and it’s true that fraternities and other orgs need to take responsibility for the safety of their parties and party-goers.

      However, I said that this is an instance of “prioritizing the concerns of insurance liability over student welfare” because increased regulations force parties off-campus. And every healthy educator worth their salt knows that off-campus parties are hella more dangerous than on-campus parties, for billions of reasons.

      it’s not that Class F’s are safe – it’s that Class F’s are definitely safer than the alternative (which tends toward overcrowind/fire risk, overdosing, sexual assault/harassment, and fights, plaina nd simple). And this policy encourages the off-campus party alternative for every house in the Greek system.

      • I guess my point was is that Brown’s liability for off-campus parties is zero. Liability for on-campus Class F: not zero. So the University is always going to try and reduce its liability to the extent they can. If they weren’t interested in student safety, they WOULD push the parties off-campus. No parties for anybody. Dry campus. Liability problem solved.

        So obviously the provision for Class Fs is an acceptance of some liability in the interest of safety. But there needs to be some regulation, and trained bartenders both reduce liability (for the University AND the frats) and increase safety. If reasonable controls of alcohol output at fraternity Class F parties can’t be accepted by the Greek system, all it does is show me that you’re the ones not interested in student safety.

        “Let us have Class F parties on school property, drink as much as we want, and serve anybody we decide to let in” is not an acceptable outcome. Sorry to harsh your buzz, bro.

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