Dean Rachel Bukanc clarifies ambiguities of alcohol and party policy

On Sept. 6, both first-year and returning students received an email from Rachel Bukanc, senior associate dean of the College, outlining the College’s policy on alcohol and parties on campus.

Although the policy debuted in fall 2015, the email was part of an effort on the part of the administration and the Alcohol Working Group (AWG) to better inform the student body, especially first-years, of the policy.

Key elements of the policy include requirements to register parties of more than 20 people and restrictions on the type, amount and source of alcoholic beverages that may be present at a party. State and federal law influenced some parts of the policy, including the prohibition of serving alcohol to people under 21 years of age, and thus the majority of first-year students. The College also has an important medical amnesty policy, which prevents the prosecution of students seeking medical assistance for an alcohol- or drug-related emergency. Campus Safety and Security is responsible for enforcing these requirements by checking to make sure large parties are registered and safe, periodically checking areas with a history of unsafe parties and reporting unsafe behaviors to the Dean’s Office.

Creating a safe and healthy social environment is a major goal of the campus alcohol policy. According to Bukanc’s email to the students and the College’s webpage, “Guidelines for Alcohol Use,” the primary goal of these requirements is to reduce “high-risk behavior” related to drinking and social gatherings.

”[AWG] was created in November 2012 by Vice President for Campus Life Steve Klass and then-Dean of the College Sarah Bolton,” Bukanc said. “The group consists of students, staff and faculty and looks at ways to best reduce negative impacts of alcohol overuse and abuse. During 2014-2015, the AWG focused on finding ways to shift social culture away from high-risk drinking by addressing responsibility and accountability at social events.”

Bukanc emphasized that the AWG is consistently working to improve its policies. The AWG’s violation rubric  is designed to both inform students of potentially dangerous behavior and to avoid overly severe punishment, according to Bukanc. AWG plans to reconvene during the school year “to review and revise policy and enforcement protocol as well as look at expanding proactive educational measures to inform the community about safe practices around alcohol and other drugs,” she said.

In Bukanc’s view, the widespread announcement about the alcohol policy this year will help the College achieve its goals as an educational institution and a small community.

“One of the great things about our small, tight community is that we work together to keep each other safe and to support a holistic learning environment that enhances academic achievement and student success,” Bukanc said. “Informing students who come from all over the world to attend school here of the various aspects of both the legal and the health-related impacts of alcohol use is a critical part of that work.”

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