Alcohol policy fails to pass SGA
Members of the Student Government Association (SGA) voted against implementing the new Alcohol Policy Enforcement Charts (APECs) at their meeting last Sunday, April 4. The APECs consist of two separate alcohol policy charts, one dealing with beer and wine and the other with hard alcohol, and articulate the different consequences of policy infractions. The charts were developed by the Campus Culture Working Group (CCWG), the College Affairs Committee (CAC) and the Office of the Dean of Students in response to a resolution passed by the Board of Trustees which bans hard alcohol on the Hill starting in the fall of 2010.
SGA members were not voting on whether or not to ban hard alcohol beginning next fall. The hard alcohol ban has already been established by the Board of Trustees, and SGA members were only voting on the measures and policy created to enforce the ban.
SGA voted against the disciplinary sanctions outlined in the APECs by a roll-call vote in which 13 members voted "yes," 15 members voted "no" and two members abstained from the vote. Because SGA voted against the new policy, the policy now moves to a Conference Committee. The Conference Committee consists of three members from the CAC and three voting members from SGA who voted "no" on the motion, Laura Maloney '12, Peter Landsman '12 and Leslie Hutchings '11. The Conference Committee represents the final step of negotiations and revisions and concludes the entire process.
The major concerns that SGA members still held about the proposed alcohol policy--and the concerns that led to the majority "no" vote--were the worries that the policy moved forward too quickly, that there is no safety or "on-paper guarantee" for appeals for students over 21 caught with hard alcohol besides choosing between a conversation with a dean or submitting an appeal to the Judiciary Board, and that there is no amnesty for students who need hospitalization.
In response to Class of 2012 Co-President Justin Rouse's concern "that the student body at large does not understand the policy" and that implementing the policy might be taken as a "real affront to the students," Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students James Terhune responded, "We're at the end of two years of this process, which has been highly inclusive of student involvement...and contains a policy drafted predominantly by students. The process goes forward regardless of whether or not SGA passes this tonight. Irrespective of whatever happens, we're always obligated to educate the community about this--I think we've made a good faith effort to try to bring students up to date over the course of the year and in the last three weeks." Woodman Dorm President John Williams '13 also said, "It seems like we're moving too quickly to set hard and fast rules and as if we're not having time to get [the] student body on board...I think more cooperation with students will generate more success for the policy."
Terhune responded, "We live in a community where 25 percent of the population turns over each year. I respect that students will not always be happy with the College's alcohol policy...I do take issue with the idea that we are rushing the process...This hasn't been rushed in any way, despite some students not paying attention...I think we've gone to great lengths to get a lot of student input."
Both AMS Dorm President Charles Wulff '11 and Dana Dorm President Coyne Lloyd '11 expressed concern over penalties for students requiring medical attention. "I'm worried about the amnesty question. I agree that we should be deterring students from doing things that harm themselves, but I think that if hospitalization is incrimination, students won't seek it," Lloyd said.
Medical Director Dr. Paul Berkner replied that "across the country, no one has been able to show that having an amnesty or not having an amnesty makes a difference in students seeking care." At the end of the evening, Terhune thanked SGA, saying, "I appreciate the conversation. It's a hard call. This is a difficult process, but I appreciate all you do."
SGA President Jacob Fisher '10 said, "Even if nothing ends up changing, it will be good to have more eyes looking at this. It will be good to have this conversation go on longer."