Editorials

Editorial: Reevaluation of interim alcohol policy

By
Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The University’s new alcohol policy is abruptly running into its first hurdle. According to a recent Herald article (“Alcohol policy, student body growth may alter College Hill dynamics,” Feb. 24) , some private residents on College Hill have seen an uptick in noisy and disruptive off-campus parties as a result of the crackdown on campus drinking. The issue of off-campus parties, which are less policed and more disruptive to the community, further testifies to a short-sightedness in the University’s approach to reforming the undergraduate culture.

The University’s interim alcohol policy — outlined in a Jan. 19 community-wide email from Vice President of Campus Life and Student Services Margaret Klawunn and Executive Vice President for Planning and Policy Russell Carey ’91 MA’06 and clarified in a subsequent Jan. 30 email — prohibited alcohol service at large-scale events in residence halls. Formerly, these parties occurred in fraternities and program houses on Wriston Quadrangle. Ironically, this marks a portion of the campus developed in 1950 for the purpose of facilitating greater administrative oversight of Greek organizations.

These interim policies — which are unlikely to be altered dramatically following the formal review — force students to socialize off campus in far less regulated environments. Beyond the inherent concerns of sexual assault and over-consumption of alcohol in these venues, the increase in off-campus parties strains the University’s relationship with the permanent residents of College Hill. This budding tension is further promulgated by what one resident described as a history of drafting policies without considering the neighborhood.

The apparent, yet surprisingly ignored, ripple effects of the interim alcohol policy are a significant point of concern, particularly in light of the administration’s handling of the Phi Kappa Psi case. Again, these administrative decisions appear to be reactive rather than proactive. There does not seem to exist a cohesive plan to address the issue of sexual assault on campus, and the interim alcohol policy annoys neighbors but does not clearly make students safer. Students are not upset with the severity of these alcohol strictures, but more so with the manner and logic with which the administration has arrived at its decisions.

The amalgamation of an already strained housing system with no foreseeable expansion of on-campus residences and the slated annual 1 percent expansion of the undergraduate student body over the next decade — as outlined in President Christina Paxson’s P’19 strategic plan — craft a situation in which an improperly implemented alcohol policy could detrimentally alter student life at Brown, both on and off campus. Though we certainly acknowledge the impermanence of the interim alcohol policy, these initial parameters are foreboding and, regardless of intention, suggest a strategy that could perpetuate and perhaps worsen the issue at stake.

Editorials are written by The Herald’s editorial page board: its editors, Alexander Kaplan ’15 and James Rattner ’15, and its members, Natasha Bluth ’15, Manuel Contreras ’16 and Baxter DiFabrizio ’15. Send comments to editorials@browndailyherald.com.