Alcohol policy changes proposed for Fall term
By Claire Groden, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson announced on July 2 to summer Greek house executives that the College will implement new alcohol and anti-hazing reforms starting in the fall. The policies, which include measures designed to limit hard alcohol consumption and hazing, have been received with surprise and disappointment by some fraternity presidents interviewed by The Dartmouth, who characterized the policies as sudden and unilateral.
The new policies include requirements for licensed bartenders to serve hard alcohol, the implementation of random walkthroughs of student residences and fraternities’ physical plants by Safety and Security and stronger punishments for serving “punch,” or batches of mixed drinks, at parties, according to documents obtained by The Dartmouth from the Office of the Dean of the College.
The punishment for serving punch would increase to three terms of social probation under the proposed policy changes, according to Jack Heise ’14, summer president of the Inter-Fraternity Council. Additionally, the proposed requirement of a licensed bartender at “wet” events is designed to introduce a sober third party to social gatherings, he said. The goal of the proposed random Safety and Security walkthroughs is to cut down on hazing, according to Heise. Johnson said that many peer institutions already have similar walkthrough policies.
Greek leaders and the administration have been involved in conversations about reducing hazing and binge drinking since Spring term, in response to a request from the Board of Trustees that the College address hazing, according to Johnson.
“None of these policies have been pulled out of thin air,” Johnson said, citing a May forum on safety and harm reduction for Greek student leaders as the basis for some of the policies.
The forum was a key turning point for the inclusion of Greek leaders in the anti-hazing conversation, she said.
Johnson said that in addition to ideas from the spring forum and discussion with the Greek Leadership Council, the administration collected policy ideas from peer institutions. Many of these policies are also a continuation of preexisting College policies, she said.
Heise said that Johnson “seems to be open to working with students” to develop the policies further.
The new policies are still subject to change based on student feedback, but the administration’s priority is acting to ensure student safety, according to Johnson.
“There is some room to modify based on what we hear from students,” she said.
There will be a campus-wide forum on July 31 to discuss the policies and continue the conversation between students and the administration, according to Johnson.
Mike Fancher ’13, the full-year president of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity who helped organize and spoke at the May forum, said that the solutions discussed at the forum did not include random walkthroughs, stricter punishments or licensed bartenders.
“None of these policies were discussed at the forum,” Fancher said. “Johnson was present but sat in the back.”
He expressed other concerns about the forum, noting that it seemed designed for the purpose of public relations, and that it should have been held on a later date that was more convenient for participants.
“The push to make it happen so quickly shows it was about making good press,” he said.
Fancher said he is disappointed that the administration moved forward with the new policies without the participation of Greek leaders. The administration has informed the Summer term Greek presidents of the proposed policies but has not communicated with the full-year presidents, according to Fancher. Johnson said she presented the policies to Greek Leadership Council executives before the Summer term presidents to collect their feedback, but Fancher said that the IFC, not the GLC, is the ruling body of campus fraternities and was bypassed by the administration.
Aaron Goone ’14, Summer term president of Kappa Kappa Kappa fraternity, also said he feels that fraternity leaders were left out of the policymaking process.
“While changes were expected, we all thought that there would be an open discussion and partnership between the administration and Greek community to address the problem, not a sudden and unexpected policy change,” he said in an email to The Dartmouth.
Goone said that Tri-Kap and other fraternities had been working on in-house efforts to cut down on hazing and binge drinking. He said he is concerned that these efforts will no longer be relevant in a new policy environment.
GLC moderator Duncan Hall ’13 said in an email to The Dartmouth that a group of Greek presidents assembled in the spring to work on the proposed policy changes with Johnson throughout the summer. He said that the policies are still a “work in progress” and were developed based on the forum and meetings with the GLC.
Goone said he is disappointed that Johnson presented the proposed policy changes to Summer term presidents instead of waiting until Fall term.
“It suggests an effort to limit discussion of these policies to as small of a student body as possible despite the fact that they will impact all students, not just a fourth of campus,” Goone said. “Looking at it in this light, I’m disappointed that the administration is excluding so many students, especially the full-time Greek leadership, from such an important discussion of student behavior and policy.”
Fancher, Heise and Goone expressed concern that the policies would not effectively combat hazing and binge drinking.
Fancher said he believes that change in the Greek system can only come from within, not from external administrative policies. If the College makes rules with which students disagree, binge drinking and hazing could be driven further underground and become more dangerous, potentially discouraging students from placing Good Samaritan calls when necessary, Fancher said.
“People will work to circumvent the new policies since they are currently being imposed and are not a result of a collaborative community effort,” Goone said. “This will cause risky behavior to be pushed further from the safety-focused aspect of the College’s efforts and result in more risk and less transparency.”
Fancher also said he takes issue with the proposed policy that would allow Safety and Security to walk through student residences, specifically Greek houses, at random times.
“Random walkthroughs cross the line that has nothing to do with hazing and everything to do with mistrust,” he said.
Johnson said that because Greek physical plants, even private houses, are under the regulation of the College, Safety and Security has the legal authority to enter the facilities unannounced.
Fancher said he expects the proposed policies, if implemented as they stand now, will increase practices such as “pregaming” and make fraternity parties more exclusive.
Full-year IFC President Tim Brown ’13 and GLC Summer president Elliot Sanborn ’14 did not respond to requests for comment by press time. The summer presidents of Psi Upsilon, Theta Delta Chi fraternity, Alpha Chi Alpha fraternity, Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity and Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity declined to comment.