Educational sanctions for drinking enforced; security involved

A new program for students who break the party policy is in the beginning stages at Williams under the direction of Williams Security and Health Education. The program was created as a follow-up procedure for the new Alcohol Party Policy and involves using sanctions. According to Director of Security Jean Thorndike-Wilson, it is intended to be an “educational piece for students” who are underage and seen drinking.

Under this new program, if an underage student is caught drinking, using a fake ID or wearing a bracelet (an indicator to hosts of students at least 21 years of age) the student will be required to meet with Security. Those students caught passing drinks to minors will also be called.

Thorndike-Wilson said during these meetings she will speak with the student about the College’s alcohol policy as well as the law and penalties of Massachusetts. Concern for the student as well as the 21-year-old host, both of whom are placed in jeopardy by underage drinking, will also be expressed.

Students who are caught at the Pub or at the Log using a fake ID will also be called into Security.

The first time the program went into effect was after a party at Perry right before Spring Break. Sixteen students were contacted to speak with Thorndike-Wilson because they had been seen either at the party or at the Log drinking or wearing a bracelet when they were underage. The biggest change in the party policy has been that there now must be a definite method at each party of identifying 21-year-olds, such as carding and using bracelets as identification.

“It is pretty easy for officers to get a feel for which students are 21 since we do interact with students regularly,” Thorndike-Wilson said. She said students appreciated being called in rather than being addressed by a Security officer at the party.

“Security is so involved in accepting party plans and assigning officers that we need to be the first step in the program,” she added. “This is definitely a campus issue and a student issue.”

“Having students talk with Security on their first offense should be a welcome addition to the current system,”student member of the Alcohol Party Policy Committee Kate Ervin ’99 said. “It is much more constructive than the old system of automatic referral to the Dean’s Office…We have not worked out the other levels of the program yet, but students can expect harsher punishments after their first offense.”

Beyond this first interaction with Security, Thorndike-Wilson said further sanctions have not been definitely determined. The Alcohol Party Policy Committee is considering many options. According to the new Substance Abuse Educator Alyssa Sporbert, a second sanction for a student who has previously been called in, may involve having the student meet with Security and others who were put at risk, such as the host of the party.

Other options consist of having the student meet with Security and Health Education, having the student pay a fine or a social sanction such as a restriction from parties for a certain amount of time.

“I am in favor of an educational sanction where students go through a program either individually or as a group,” Sporbert said. “The program would consist of general alcohol education and provide an opportunity for students to evaluate their reasons for using alcohol and the consequences of their use. And, if necessary, a guide to change their use if they choose to.”

A third sanction will most likely be a notice to the Dean’s Office. The number of offenses which would result in this step is yet to be determined.

“The ultimate disciplinary sanction would be suspension, but we are unclear if that would happen after a certain number of violations, or if it would depend on the severity of the violation,” Sporbert said.

By September 1998 Thorndike-Wilson said a program should be in place. “We want to have an aggressive alcohol awareness program involving the Health Center, especially with JAs, to make the freshmen aware of the alcohol policies on campus and underage drinking,” she said.

Health Educator Donna Denelli-Hess and Sporbert will also be involved in pieces of JA training. Sporbert said Security and Health Education are also talking about going together to “Entry Talks” and/or being present at “First Snacks.”

A TIPS [Training for Intervention Procedures] program and “Bar Code” server training are currently offered by the College. Hosts and peer monitors, who are under 21 but serve or check ID at a party, must take the two TIPS programs. “Our hope is that students who host parties will have servers who have been trained in responsible serving of alcohol, such as limiting students who have had too much and checking ID,” Sporbert said.

Thorndike-Wilson said the committee is looking into a program to address the issue of party hosts who may not be complying with the Alcohol Policy.

“What good is a policy if it’s not being enforced,” Sporbert commented. “We all agree that drinking on campus has to change.”

“I was encouraged by my talks with the students who were called in because I presented them with the problem and they gave it serious consideration and offered solutions. They understand how serious this is and how it affects all campuses and not just Williams,” Thorndike-Wilson said. “I think we’re moving in the right direction to address underage drinking.”

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