University News

UCS, admins discuss interim alcohol policy

Klawunn, Shiner, Tompkins address issues surrounding alcohol on campus

Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, February 5, 2015

Undergraduate Council of Students President Maahika Srinivasan ’15 presents to council members at the UCS general body meeting Wednesday night.

Vice President for Campus Life and Student Services Margaret Klawunn fielded questions and concerns about the University’s interim alcohol policy and the clarification email sent Friday at the Undergraduate Council of Students general body meeting Wednesday. Tim Shiner, director of the Stephen Robert ’62 Campus Center and student activities, and Kate Tompkins, assistant director of Residential Life also responded to inquiries.

In response to enforcement concerns raised by UCS Academic and Administrative Affairs Chair Elena Saltzman ’16, Klawunn said Residential Peer Leaders and the Department of Public Safety received no new instructions besides “the same set of protocols that we had in place” before the interim alcohol policy’s implementation. “We’re hoping to improve the policies that we have,” Klawunn said, adding that the interim alcohol policy is part of a broader and more public conversation on campus safety.

Shiner said it is important for the University to review its policies “as a matter of course,” adding that the last major review of sexual assault policy came in 2006 following a major case. “The difference is not that we’re talking about it, but frankly that you’re paying attention,” he said, regarding the student body.

Concern surfaced at the meeting over the interim alcohol policy’s stipulation that student groups hold registered large scale events with alcohol service in approved campus spaces.

Justice Gaines ’16, a UCS general body member, said this mandate could discourage students from reporting sexual misconduct incidents if they thought an organization could be “just as culpable as the individual.”

Registration policies are intended to protect organizations’ liability as well as individual safety, Shiner said.

Tompkins said she does not anticipate a dip in the number of students joining Greek and program housing, as the rush process has always been dry. Sorority rush numbers are already up this year, she added.

Klawunn said the interim alcohol policy is “really not about image,” but rather about the personal safety of students on and off campus.

UCS Admissions and Student Services Chair Ryan Lessing ’17 introduced the general body to WTF Brown, or “What to Fix Brown,” the council’s new online feedback forum on the UCS website and Facebook page, where undergraduates can post or vote on suggestions for campus improvements and see progress updates on those ideas from UCS. The platform has already seen student suggestions such as replacing electric dryers with paper towels in bathrooms and building swings on the Main Green.

To ensure user accountability, the platform is “very explicitly not anonymous,” Lessing said. Students must log in through their Brown accounts before posting and voting. They can vote for a single post up to three times, and ideally they will make concrete suggestions, Lessing added.

Members of the UCS Executive Board updated the general body on each committee’s progress this week.

In anticipation of meeting with Provost Vicki Colvin later this month, the UCS Campus Life Committee is preparing to present dining feedback, focusing on the Sharpe Refectory in light of a Feb. 3 Herald editorial, said Walker Mills ’15, the committee chair and a former Herald opinions columnist. Mills added that he hopes to meet with Senior Associate Dean of Residential Life and Dining Services Richard Bova to discern how they can best support the increase of students in temporary housing this semester.

The UCS Outreach and Advocacy Committee met Tuesday to debrief on student reception of the new partnerships with ROTC units at the College of the Holy Cross that passed by a faculty vote Tuesday, particularly focusing on transgender inclusion, said Sazzy Gourley ’16, UCS vice president and chair of the committee.


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  1. Gael Epstein says:

    Oh…more verbal diarrhea by Margaret Klawunn.

  2. The challenge of keeping a healthy social life active at Brown while also making sure that circumstances are not created where sexual assault is likely to happen is a hard one to meet. Unfortunately, the University is using the fear of sexual assault as a platform on which to remove themselves of culpability if sexual assault does occur but not to actually address the cultural problem. By banning Class F parties in Greek and Program Houses, it will force many more parties to occur off campus. These off-campus parties will undoubtedly contain more alcohol, more binge drinking, less supervision, less peer and university oversight, and ultimately may lead to more sexual assaults. However, the school will not be responsible. The vast majority of Greek and Program houses are vigilant about providing a safe, fun, and college-appropriate experience for their partygoers. They check IDs, limit alcohol, monitor behavior, and restrict access. The parties provide a social outlet for students and also helps promote the organizations. This decision, even in a temporary status, will not deter sexual assault or change drinking on the part of Brown students. It may only do the opposite. But the University will be able to wash their hands and plead ignorance.

    • Robert Cryuff says:

      Chris Paxson is a big problem as a university president. She distances herself from problems. She does not do her job. Instead she just talks a lot, and seems to like it when Margaret Klawunn talks a lot too. Recently, the president of Brandeis University was fired. Perhaps we should try to get the same thing done at Brown.

  3. The fact that non greeks can still have parties in their dorm rooms with alcohol service just proves that this policy is 100% about image and in no way meant to deter sexual assaults. Remind me which greek house Lena Sclove was at the night she was raped?

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