Alcohol policies will go into effect Sept. 21
By Felicia Schwartz And Matthew Mc Nierney, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Tuesday, September 4, 2012
The new harm reduction, alcohol and hazing policies proposed over the summer by Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson — which include random walkthroughs conducted by Safety and Security officers in common areas and harsher penalties for violations — will go into effect on Sept. 21, according to Johnson. Some of the proposed policies, such as increased requirements for bartenders at parties that serve hard alcohol, will be reassessed after a 30-day “grace period” at the beginning of the fall during which sanctions will be less strict.
During the period between the beginning of the Fall term and when the policies will go into effect, Johnson will continue to gather student feedback through various means, including holding an open forum on Sept. 18 to discuss the policies and forming a small working group of students to evaluate the best way to implement bartender requirements.
“The timeline was extended to incorporate a lot of really great student feedback we got this summer,” special assistant to the dean of the College Liz Agosto said. “We want to make responsible policy rather than just reactive policy.”
The policies as they were initially proposed have undergone several revisions, which include the implementation of a trial period, postponing the bartender requirement for parties that serve hard alcohol and the collaborative formulation of the random walkthrough policy, according to Agosto. These changes will eventually be finalized along with the rest of the harm reduction policies this fall to ensure that they are further informed by student feedback and collaboration with administrators and Safety and Security. Early in the Fall term, Johnson will notify the campus with additional information about the policy updates. The policies will then be reviewed, and students will be asked questions about implementation and clarification of the policies, Agosto said.
Following Johnson’s original announcement of the harm reduction policies in July, fraternity presidents interviewed by The Dartmouth criticized the new policies, calling them sudden and unilateral. Several fraternity house advisors also expressed disappointment in how Johnson initially announced the policies, according to Herb Philpot ’85, alumnus advisor to Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity. However, Johnson later attended the July 26 house advisor meeting held by Greek Letter Organizations and Societies and listened to house advisors’ suggestions, according to Beta Alpha Omega house advisor Dimitri Gerakaris ’69.
“Dean Johnson was very responsive,” he said. “It was very gratifying that she very quickly agreed to meet with all the advisers in the regular advisor meeting.”
Since the original announcement of the policies, Johnson said she has spoken with summer leaders from the Greek Leadership Council, Panhellenic Council, Inter-Fraternity Council and Greek houses, as well as house advisors and student leaders who are currently off campus.
Even though the policies were announced over the summer when most students are not on campus, it has not been difficult to gather student feedback, according to Johnson. In addition to speaking with some Greek presidents over the phone, students on campus were very involved in the formulation of these new policies.
“The students who were here on campus served the student body very well,” she said.
Johnson will meet with the Board of Trustees, fraternity and sorority presidents, house advisors and administrators to discuss how the policies will be implemented and how Greek houses and the administration will “move forward together,” Gerakaris said. This meeting will take place later in September, according to an email sent by Greek Letter Organizations and Societies Director Wes Schaub and obtained by The Dartmouth.
The policies took into account student suggestions, many of which were synthesized in a formal document prepared by the GLC. Submitted to Johnson on July 26, the document synthesized student input into “concrete and actionable” policy suggestions, summer GLC moderator Elliot Sanborn ’14 said. The document said that the policies would be more effective if they “promote clarity and allow students to familiarize themselves with and adjust to any new policy changes during a 60-day trial period.”
In addition to completely delaying the new policies until Sept. 21, Johnson said that any increased punishments will not go into effect until after the 30-day grace period, after the policies go into full effect. This will allow campus organizations to be more informed about the new policies, Johnson said. Further, it will allow all Greek houses and social spaces to adjust to a “culture change” in the Dartmouth social scene, full-year GLC moderator Duncan Hall ’13 said. The postponement of implementing the bartending requirement will allow for the formulation of a realistic way to regulate drinking in social spaces while also taking student input into consideration, according to Panhell summer president Eliana Piper ’14.
Johnson said that while she is not yet ready to discount any options at this time, the Dean’s Office “might be open” to allowing student bartenders that meet certain requirements, such as being of legal drinking age and having gone through some form of bartender training. Gerakaris said house advisors suggested to Johnson that having licensed bartenders at parties might not be feasible.
“We all realize there are real shortcomings to having professional caterers come in and be bartenders,” he said. “A lot of these caterers wouldn’t want to touch the fraternity events.”
At the house advisor meeting Johnson attended, Gerakaris said that the advisors suggested having properly trained Dartmouth students serve as bartenders instead.
“I don’t want to put words in her mouth, but I got the feeling that she was receptive to the idea,” he said.
Piper said she hopes this aspect of the policy will include more involvement from students, which could be accomplished by strengthening Green Team’s role.
Panhell was especially concerned that the bartender requirement might encourage drinking to move into closed, private spaces and increase the likelihood of sexual assault, Piper said.
Safety and Security will meet with student leaders in the fall to help create the walkthrough policy, which will affect all residential facilities on campus, according to Director of Safety and Security and College Proctor Harry Kinne.
“Since it’s a harm reduction initiative, we want to be as transparent as possible,” he said.
While the walkthrough policy will only affect residential facilities on campus, the policy in general is wide-ranging and aims to combat hazing and high-risk drinking across campus, he said.
While Safety and Security has yet to formulate a specific policy, Kinne speculated that the walkthroughs conducted under the harm reduction initiative would not be much different than the scheduled walkthroughs Safety and Security officers already perform.
“I assume the only difference is that they would be random and unannounced,” he said.
Kinne said Safety and Security officers would only check common spaces and would not go into students’ rooms, as officers are careful to respect students’ privacy.
Because Safety and Security has a “limited but adequate” number of officers, it would be “impossible” to do a random walkthrough of every organization every night. The walkthroughs will be random and will be set up so no specific location had a disproportionate number of visits.
Kinne said that the harm reduction initiatives would probably not change how Safety and Security handles students or organizations when they find violations of College policy. Safety and Security currently goes through the College to handle any violations it finds and will continue to use the same process.
Above all, Safety and Security wants to be open with students, he said.
“We really value our relationships with students and student organizations,” he said. “We’re fair and want to be very open about what we do and what we don’t do.”
Administrators, Greek leaders and house advisors interviewed by The Dartmouth all said that collaboration and communication among all sectors of campus is most important moving forward.
Full-year IFC President Tim Brown ’13 said that students would buy into policies they help create.
“The more feedback and thought, the better for formulating policy,” he said.
Piper said students should approach the Fall term with a “collaborative attitude,” and that she thought the administration would be receptive to students with “constructive ideas.” Johnson said she has been “impressed” by the level of serious student feedback she has received so far.
“I think we are in a much better place than when we first announced that these reforms were going to happen, and we will be in an even better place by Sept. 21,” she said.