GLC hosts meeting to hear student concerns
By Matthew Mc Nierney, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Friday, July 20, 2012
About 30 students hoping to share their feedback about the recently proposed changes to the College’s alcohol policy filled Collis 101 on Tuesday night for the Greek Leadership Council’s town hall meeting.
While opinions on the policies were mixed, most students who spoke expressed dissatisfaction with the “suddenness” and “uncertainty” of the policies, according to summer GLC moderator Elliot Sanborn ’14.
The proposed policies, which Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson announced to summer Greek house executives on July 2, include increased punishments for serving “punches,” random unannounced walkthroughs by Safety and Security and a requirement that hard alcohol be served by licensed caterers.
The policies that have been proposed have not been finalized, but Johnson said they will be formalized at the beginning of the Fall term.
Sanborn said that the event was held primarily to reduce confusion amongst students about the policies and the process behind their formulation, as well as to develop a report on student opinion to deliver to the administration.
The GLC chose not to invite certain administrators, such as Johnson, in order to allow students to speak more freely, according to summer Panhellenic Council president Eliana Piper ’14. In this setting, students shared the possible implications of implementing the harm reduction policies as they stand with the hope that the administration will eventually enact effective polices, Piper said.
“We got a sense of the inner workings of how the policies would affect our social scene now,” she said. “I have been favorably impressed with how the administration has dealt with us. Dean Johnson and others really do want feedback and our input.”
Some attendees felt that the polices were proposed without student input, Sanborn said.
While most students were not informed of the policies until last week, Sanborn told the students in attendance that Johnson met with some members of the Class of 2013, including full-year GLC moderator Duncan Hall ’13, as early as Spring term.
Sanborn also clarified that the bartenders required to serve hard alcohol would not be Dartmouth students.
GLC treasurer Dan Harnish ’14 said that the random Safety and Security walkthroughs would not include private rooms and would be limited to the first floor and the basement of Greek houses.
At the meeting, the GLC announced the “First Six” program that is being developed by the College to better orient new students to the College’s campus during their first six weeks at Dartmouth.
The proposals for the program include an enhanced peer advising system and better promotion of “alternative social spaces” on campus, according to Sanborn.
Although members of the GLC said at the meeting that the First Six program may include a provision barring freshmen from entering Greek houses during the first six weeks of Fall term, Director of Media Relations for the College Justin Anderson said that this is just a rumor and was never considered as part of the First Six program.
The College’s decision to no longer provide funding for Green Team — a student organization that provides sober monitors to campus parties — at unregistered events was not discussed at the forum because the GLC did not have enough information on the policy at the time, Sanborn said.
The GLC supports Green Team as one of the best harm reduction initiatives on campus, according to Sanborn. Even though the announcement of the new policy was not a “coordinated effort,” he said he hopes that College administrators can find a way to keep Green Team at campus parties.
Because Johnson has a mandate from the Board of Trustees to address hazing and binge drinking on campus, students should stop focusing on getting the policies reversed and instead provide as much constructive criticism as possible, Sanborn said.
“Something is going to happen, and it’s in our best interests to inform the administration rather than just pushing back,” he said.
Although the GLC attempted to further explain the policies, the administration has not distributed enough information for them to hold an effective meeting, according to summer Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity president Peter Spradling ’14, who attended the discussion along with eight other members of SAE.
“The GLC was not very informed,” he said. “It’s kind of unfair to the GLC because it makes them look very bad.”
Piper said that the administration has been very open about its decision-making process, and that any lack of information about the policies is due to the fact that the policies themselves are not yet fully formed.
“The student body should and will have as much of the information as there is,” Piper said. “We have as much information as there is to know.”
Gathering feedback from students is essential to creating effective policy changes because students are more aware of campus culture, according to Spradling.
He said, for example, that while College administrators believe that freshmen get their alcohol at fraternity “tails” events, freshmen are actually barred from these private events and typically drink alcohol in their rooms before attending open events at Greek houses.
Spradling also said that because fraternities will most likely not hire bartenders, female students will be forced to go upstairs to a fraternity member’s room to get hard alcohol, increasing the likelihood of sexual assault.
“We should keep things in public spaces as much as possible,” he said.
The points discussed in the meeting will be summarized in a document that will be presented to the administration early next week, according to Sanborn.
Next Thursday, the GLC, along with the summer presidents of each Greek organization, will meet with Johnson and interim College President Carol Folt and Johnson to discuss the policies, Sanborn said.
The effectiveness of the town hall meeting will depend entirely on whether the administration takes the advice presented to them seriously over the coming weeks, Spradling said.
Earlier this month, the Dean of the College’s office established a website to allow students to share feedback and input on the new proposals. Johnson will also host an open forum on July 31 for community members to discuss any potential changes to the alcohol policy.