Why there is no need to fear the new alcohol policy

September 3, 2010 News

The first response is typically shock, followed by a wave a panic. This has been the reaction of many students upon learning that the Rollins alcohol policy has changed this year.

However, there is very little to fear about the change in policy.

In fact, what most students do not know is that the new policy was actually developed in response to students’ concerns that the previous alcohol policy, specifically the policy regarding possession, was too vague. In addition to eliminating gray areas, the new policy is actually intended to allow more flexibility in sanctioning, a big change from the standard Rollins “three strikes and you’re out” rule.

Here are the facts:

The first major change to the policy is the definition of possession. According to the new policy, possession is defined as “being present in a room or area where there is alcohol.”

Furthermore, the policy states that “empty alcohol containers may be viewed as evidence of consumption.” This includes alcohol containers used for decorative purposes.

The second significant change is the outlining of “dry” conditions.

As always, alcohol is prohibited in buildings designated as first-year buildings, such as Ward, McKean, and Rex Beach, even for those persons over the age of 21.

Additionally, the code has been expanded to include policy regarding orientation and other dry dates.

According to the new code, the entire campus is considered dry during orientation, before the start of classes, and during winter break, regardless of age.

The last major change in the policy is the change in sanctioning. This year, the possible sanctions have been expanded to include sanctions for first and second offense minor violations. These can include an online alcohol course, essay, parental notification, disciplinary warning, or a combination of these.

It is easy to get lost in translation when it comes to defining and applying the code, so I have broken it down into three, easy-to-follow, imaginary scenarios. Each of the following is an example of a policy violation, although each scenario is slightly different. Furthermore, each scenario outlines the possible sanctioning for the violation.

Scenario 1: An underage student is visiting a friend’s room in Holt. Because of excessive noise, Campus Security has been called to the room. When Campus Security arrives, they find the underage student with an alcoholic beverage in hand.

In this scenario, because the underage student has been found with a drink in hand, the student has clearly violated the policy’s definition of possession. This offence would be recorded as a minor violation. Since the student was most likely consuming alcohol as well as possessing it, the sanctions would most likely include BASICS (Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students) or the online alcohol course (“Under the Influence”), parental notification and disciplinary warning.

Scenario 2: An underage student is visiting a friend’s room in Elizabeth. Campus Security has been called to the room for excessive noise. When Campus Security arrives, they find the underage student sitting in a chair with an alcoholic beverage on the table beside them.

This scenario is slightly trickier than the last. Although the underage student is not in direct possession of the beverage as in the previous scenario, according to the new policy’s definition of possession, the student is in violation of the code. It is important to note that specific details about the scenario would be included in the security report, including the ratio of opened and unopened alcoholic containers to the number of people in the room.

However, because the underage student is within reach of the beverage, it is more difficult to believe that the underage student has not been drinking. In most cases, this offense would be considered a minor violation and result in the same sanctioning as scenario one.

Scenario 3: An underage student is visiting a friend’s room in Sutton. Because of excessive noise, Campus Security has been called to the room. When Campus Security arrives, they find the underage student sitting on the couch in the living room. Although there is no alcohol in the living room, there are open alcohol containers on the dining area of the apartment.

This last scenario is by far the most difficult. Although the underage student is still in violation of the code according to the new definition of procession, careful attention would be paid to the details of the incident report. As mentioned above, the incident report would record the exact ratio of alcoholic containers to the number of people in the apartment. This scenario would be considered a minor violation as well; however, the sanctioning might be less severe. For example, the underage student might receive a reflection paper and disciplinary warning.

Information!

Of course every situation is different and that is why the Office of Community Standards relies heavily on both the incident reports and testimonies of the students in question. There are some basic rules to follow when trying to avoid violating the new policy. The following are some helpful tips to help you remain violation-free:

  • Avoid excessive noise. What most students do not know is that the thing that attracts the attention of ResLife or Campus Security the most is loud voices and music. More often than not, shouting voices or pounding music that prompts RAs and Campus Security Officers to knock on the doors behind which they find underage drinkers.
  • If you are under 21, avoid putting yourself in situations in which it might be perceived that you were drinking. Although it is perfectly fine for your of-age friends to drink around you, ask them to put excess alcoholic containers away. The rule is one alcoholic container per of-age person. If your of-age friend is truly your friend, they will have no problem insuring your safety.
  • If you are over 21, avoid inviting underage friends to your parties. I know it is hard, but no one wants to get slapped with a “providing alcohol to minors” violation. If your underage friends are truly your friend, they will understand.
  • Throw out or, better yet, recycle all of your empty alcohol containers you use for room decoration. Even if the container is now being used for other purposes, it could be used against you. Furthermore, if you often have empty alcoholic containers in your trash or recycling bins, make sure to take out the trash regularly.
  • As always, avoid alcohol in designated first-year buildings. In these dry buildings, all persons found with alcohol, whether over or underage, will be in violation of the code.

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