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UCS offers feedback on alcohol policy change

Council members sound off on recent changes to provide input to administrators

In anticipation of a planned email Thursday from Vice President for Campus Life and Student Services Margaret Klawunn clarifying last week’s announcement of alcohol policy changes, the Undergraduate Council of Students discussed the  potential negative consequences of the changes at the UCS general body meeting Wednesday night.

Parties with alcohol service are banned in residential areas, including Greek and program houses, while the Division of Campus Life and Student Services conducts a review of the University’s alcohol policies this semester, wrote Klawunn and Executive Vice President for Planning and Policy Russell Carey ’91 MA’06 in a Jan. 19 campus-wide email.

Carey and Klawunn announced “a pretty monumental change” in just one paragraph of the email, said UCS President Maahika Srinivasan ’15. Other parts of the email addressed sanctions incurred by Phi Kappa Psi and Sigma Chi after students who attended separate unregistered parties with alcohol service at the two fraternities filed separate sexual misconduct reports.

Klawunn will attend next week’s UCS meeting to solicit student feedback and answer questions about the policy changes, Srinivasan said.

Sazzy Gourley ’16, UCS vice president and chair of the UCS Outreach and Advocacy committee, led a review of the email before the general body divided into smaller discussion groups. The council wanted to “talk about it as a group so we know where everyone is standing,” he said.

“Alcohol isn’t a cause for sexual assault, and when we talk about it we can’t ever frame it like that,” Srinivasan said.

The policy change was “important to portray an image of Brown taking action,” said UCS general body member Matthew Boney ’18 in a discussion group. But “just saying alcohol shouldn’t be served at certain parties isn’t really going to change anyone’s actions, so it may just be hurting us because it might be putting more people in violation of school policy,” he added.

Gourley said the interim policy “definitely has the potential to push more (parties) underground” and off campus.

“It makes sense that fraternities need to host recruitment events,” said UCS general body member Christian Hanson ’17. “If I (were) in a fraternity, I would feel like they just brushed over something that’s really integral to my organization just for the sake of, perhaps, diffusing responsibility.”

In considering the interim guidelines’ effect on the rate of reporting sexual assault, Boney said the policy could cause the number of reports to decrease because it “might scare people away from being open with the University.”

UCS committee leaders also updated the general body on their plans for the semester.

The UCS Admissions and Student Services committee will continue preparing the launch of “WTF Brown,” or “What to Fix Brown,”  an online forum for students to provide feedback to UCS and administrators on issues of student life, said Committee Chair Ryan Lessing ’17. Committee members will also continue working to create the Brown Developer Exchange for students interested in building software for the University, he said.

UCS Campus Life Committee Chair Walker Mills ’15 said that in the short term, committee members will focus on responding to the influx of former fraternity members living in temporary housing, as well as increasing feedback about dining services.

UCS Academic and Administrative Affairs Chair Elena Saltzman ’16 said her committee plans to improve sophomore advising by the concentration declaration deadline.

The council also reconstituted several student groups. The group formerly known as Karin and the Improvs gained approval to change its name to Comic Sans, while the groups Students for Life and Students for Samaritans were approved to have leadership specifications added to their constitutions.

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