College modifies party policies

September 16, 2015 by Matthew Borin, Executive Editor

The Dean’s Office recently modified College policies so that Campus Safety and Security (CSS) will no longer immediately shut down parties involving alcohol, provided the parties follow certain guidelines.

The Dean’s Office made the College’s new policies in order to promote responsible party standards. These standards forbid hard alcohol at parties and limit the number of servings of beer and wine to the lesser of either twice the capacity of the room the party is in or 120. The standards prohibit common source alcohol including kegs, punch bowls and sangria bowls.

Drinking games are no longer automatically prohibited. Provided the games do not violate the responsible party standards, CSS may allow them to continue. The new policy also suggests that sanctions for hard alcohol or failing to cooperate with CSS will be more severe than they were in the past. The College considers the use of funnels, “shot guns” or other paraphernalia to be an especially serious offense.

“Students argued that there are safe drinking games,” Sarah Bolton, dean of the College, said. “So the Working Group decided that the presence of a drinking game that is within the limits of what drinks are allowed and isn’t increasing the speed of drinking or the mess that is created should be allowed.”

The College now requires that parties of more than 25 people register with the Office of Student Life before 7 p.m. on the night of the party. Parties that expect to host more than 100 students are required to have an event manager per state law.  Students can only register parties in approved rooms and may not register parties in first-year dorms.

“The entries are different because if Campus Safety walks through they know essentially that everyone in the room is underage. For their personal liability, and for our institutional legal requirements, they can’t ignore that, and still have to make students pour out beers and that sort of thing,” Bolton said. “We just don’t have an option there, it’s the law.”

CSS will likely check on all registered parties to communicate with the hosts, ensure that there are no safety issues and determine whether the party is following the standards established by the Dean’s Office. CSS officers will not shut down parties that are deemed safe and following the guidelines. Hosts may also call CSS for assistance with a party that became unsafe or started to violate the responsible party standards. If CSS is able to remedy the situation, they may allow the party to continue.

Disciplinary issues regarding alcohol will be handled by the Dean’s Office. CSS will no longer fine or sanction students.

“Campus Safety are the folks who are there writing down if something goes wrong. But their responsibility won’t go beyond there. If it’s a student group doing something wrong that should be responded to through student group processes. If it’s an individual issue then that should be responded to through the Dean’s Office,” Bolton said. “I think there had been some concerns that similar situations were responded to in different ways.”

Data the College collected last semester from the March 2015 NESCAC surveys on alcohol use and conversations with peer colleges informed these changes. The Alcohol Working Group generated the new policy. The Group is co-chaired by Bolton and Vice President for Campus Life Steve Klass, and includes health educators, Director of CSS David Boyer, the Assistant Director of Student Life for Student Organizations Ben Lamb, Dean of First Year Students Dave Johnson, the leaders of College Council and members of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, the Honor and Discipline Committee, the Rape and Sexual Assault Network, Peer Health, Junior Advisors and several other students.

“One of the things that we did in the alcohol survey was look at the kinds of negative outcomes students suffered and what drinking behaviors those were correlated with,” Bolton said. “The two behaviors that were strongly correlated were drinking fast and drinking hard alcohol. Students drinking hard alcohol were two or three [times] more likely to report negative consequences.”

CSS will likely check on all registered parties to communicate with the hosts of the party, ensure that there are no safety issues and determine whether or not the party is following the standards established by the Dean’s Office. CSS officers will not shut down parties that are deemed safe and following the guidelines.

Hosts may call CSS for assistance with a party that becomes unsafe or starts to violate the responsible party standards. If CSS can remedy the situation, they may let the party continue.

Disciplinary issues regarding alcohol will be handled by the Dean’s Office. CSS will no longer sanction students.

“CSS are the folks who are there writing down if something goes wrong. But their responsibility won’t go beyond there. If it’s a student group doing something wrong that should be responded to through student group processes. If it’s an individual issue then that should be responded to through the Dean’s Office,” Bolton said. “I think there had been some concerns that similar situations were responded to in different ways. We are working together to ensure that responses are transparent,  meaningful and applied reguarly and evenly.”

Data the College collected last semester from surveys on alcohol use (see: “NESCAC” surveys on alcohol use, March 11, 2015) and conversations with peer colleges informed these changes. The Alcohol Working Group generated the new policy. The Group is co-chaired by Bolton and Vice President for Campus Life Steve Klass, and includes health educators, Director of CSS David Boyer, the Assistant Director of Student Life for Student Organizations Ben Lamb, Dean of First Year Students Dave Johnson, the leaders of College Council and members of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, the Honor and Discipline Committee, the Rape and Sexual Assault Network, Peer Health, Junior Advisors and several other students.

“One of the things that we did in the alcohol survey was look at the kinds of negative outcomes students suffered and what drinking behaviors those were correlated with,” Bolton said. “The two behaviors that were strongly correlated were drinking fast and drinking hard alcohol. Students drinking hard alcohol were two or three [times] more likely to report negative consequences.”

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