September 23’ 2021
With the beginning of this academic year, the center for Fraternity and Sorority Life updated students involved in Greek Life of some important updates related to Alma College’s alcohol policy. Changes that were brought about through a series of student dialogues, a DYAD report which analyzed Greek life on campus and a review of our previous alcohol policy.
The DYAD report and student feedback brought to the forefront some important issues with the college’s previous alcohol policy, such as its vagueness leading students to unintentionally violate school code, and some outdated clauses, like disallowing students above the age of 21 from drinking outside of their rooms in Greek life or campus housing (not including dorms). To the students, it made little sense that they could consume alcohol in the confines of their rooms but could not in their common living spaces of their Greek housing units, despite most if not all members there being above the age of 21.
The previous policy demanded that students drink inside their rooms, not in their common spaces and that their doors remained closed while they were consuming alcohol. The old policy stated, “Students age 21 or older may choose to drink alcoholic beverages in the privacy of their residential rooms, provided that: students do not infringe upon the privacy and rights of others in and around the residence; the door to their room remains closed.” This created a problem: for students to be drinking alone in the privacy of their rooms became common and was a culture college admin did not wish to propagate.
“We don’t want students to drink alone in their rooms. When students gave us the feedback that they weren’t trying to be malicious but simply wanted to drink within their house but outside their rooms, we agreed with them”, said Nicholas Benjamin, Assistant Director of Resident Life on campus. “If you’re of age, it’s your living room as long as things stay safe. You should be allowed to drink in your living room”, he added.
The new policy was given a good amount of thought and time. Em Wolfe, amember of the Diversity and Inclusion team on campus, helped create the initial draft of the new policy after reviewing feedback and sifting through policies of other colleges that resembled Alma in size and composition. This report was then sent over to Nicholas Benjamin who, along with Dave Blanford, Director of Student Engagement, went through and reviewed its details to create a more comprehensive final draft. This final draft was then sent over to Damon Brown, Vice President for Student Affairs, who approved the changes, thus making them formal Alma College policy.
These changes are at the forefront of a number of other policy changes brought about with the aim of creating a safer, more habitable college environment. Along with the alcohol policy changes, the administration has set up a review mechanism which will make sure college policies didn’t go unreviewed for more than a specific period of time. The administration also made it simpler for students to go through and understand the Student Handbook by creating a more defined and outlined document. With these changes, the college has transitioned into a better organized academic year which will reap benefits in the long run.