Interim party policy replaces party ban

The interim party policy that went into effect after Police Chief Kennedy filed complaints against security officers and students has not yet been replaced with a permanent revision. The current interim arrangement came after complaints were filed against five Williams students and six members of the College’s Security force who were involved in an on-campus party three weeks ago in which minors were allegedly served alcohol.

The current interim policy requires that every host be 21 or older, first-year entries be excluded from party plans and party plans be submitted with clear proposals for dealing with underage drinking. Director of Security Jean Thorndike-Wilson said, “We’re still using the interim policy.” She added that large parties still are allowed on campus, but every host must be 21 or older and if alcohol is available at the party there must be a trained server. Security officers will work parties as long as all the conditions of the interim policy have been met.

Thorndike-Wilson said she and Dean of the College Peter Murphy discussed the idea of forming a committee to review the party policy at the end of last semester and the members were chosen at the beginning of the current academic year. “Originally, the committee was going to review the policy throughout the year in view of making changes for the 1998-99 year. Due to the incident at Agard House and police intervention, we had to move up our goal,” she said.

The College faced a similar problem approximately five years ago, Thorndike-Wilson said. At that time, there was a ban on all parties on campus for a couple of weeks and the Dean’s Office handled all party planning. That situation led to the party policy as it stands now.

Thorndike-Wilson explained that the committee is still in the process of reviewing the party policy, but that no final decisions have been made; “right now we’re still raising questions.” She reported that the purpose of the Forum on Party Policy, held Sunday evening, was to open up the discussion to the students.

In an interview before the Forum, Thorndike-Wilson said, “We’re looking forward to gaining additional input and getting a sense of the students’ feelings.”

Thorndike-Wilson was unable to predict when the committee will make its final decisions. When it does decide on appropriate revisions to the party policy, those revisions then have to be reviewed by the college lawyer, Don Dubendorf, of Grinnell Dubendorf & Smith on Spring Street, before being implemented.

Mike Ryan ’98, a member of the review committee, said, “I realize everybody wants to know how things are going to turn out, but we are still a little ways from deciding what is best for the community and in compliance with the law.” He added, “In the meantime everybody can spend Thursday and Friday nights at the Log. Saturday may be opening up down there in the not too distant future.”

Parties still will be held on Homecoming weekend, but they must comply with the interim arrangement. In order to prevent underage drinking, wrist bands will be given to students who are 21 or older and a trained server will work each party.

As Williams must review its party policy in light of its social scene and town relationship, other colleges must deal with their special circumstances when reviewing their party policies. Dan Nelson, senior assistant dean and dean of upper class students at Dartmouth College, explained that, as at other colleges, federal law requires Dartmouth’s alcohol policy to reflect the state policy on drinking. That college’s policy prohibits underage drinking and it does not allow kegs in residence halls. Nelson said alcohol is prohibited in social spaces unless an event has been registered. He added that most alcohol consumption on campus occurs in fraternities and sorrorities.

Nelson said of Dartmouth’s alcohol policy, “We are currently reviewing our policy and how the implementation of that policy affects student organizations, namely fraternities and sororities. There are some of us here who think the College is doing better on an individual basis and in residence houses than with the fraternities and sororities.”