Alcohol policies working?

Administrators say it is too early to judge new policies governing student alcohol consumption.
By Jeff Frankel

All university-wide alcohol recommendations are currently in effect for this semester, but it is unclear if they are working in the “short period of time” since their implementation in September, University administrators say.

Dean of Students Anthony Campbell and Debbie Stasolla, vice chair of the Presidential Task Force on Alcohol, Personal Responsibility and Student Life, were the guest speakers at the Lawrenceville SGA meeting on Tuesday, where they gave updates and dispelled misconceptions regarding the new
policies.

“I have seen progress,” said Stasolla in a separate interview. “I am also aware there are concerns.”

She said the new policies are not “static” and can be modified to reflect the community better.

However, the initial draft for Greek recommendations is still on the drawing board and the University is looking to implement them in the spring semester.

Whether or not the policies are effective is another issue. It has been a month since freshman move-in day and administrators do not know what
polices will work and what won’t.

“We plan on assessing this regularly,” Stasolla said. “We would like to assess this at the end of the fall semester. It’s been a short period of time.”

Some students also appear to be confused about some of the policies, according to administrators. The students do not seem to fully understand the Good Samaritan policy, Campbell said at the SGA meeting.

“Considering that there are some students who didn’t understand the policies, we have to do some more marketing,” he said.

Stasolla pointed out that not all of the students in her Freshman Seminar class fully understood the Good Samaritan policy, where they can report sick underage students without campus repercussions.

“[It’s] an eye-opening experience with students,” she said. “It really hit home for me [that] we have to [answer] these questions.”

The Good Samaritan policy was designed so that the caller or the victim will not be penalized by the University for calling for medical help if he or she is underage.

It was formulated so students “won’t make medical decisions” for others whose lives may be in danger, Stasolla said.
Last spring semester, freshman Gary DeVercelly died after allegedly drinking three-fourths of a bottle of vodka in less than 30 minutes. Others at the party reportedly placed DeVercelly in a room after he passed out instead of calling for an ambulance.

Lawrence Township officers are required to cite underage drinking as a local ordinance violation, including underage students transported to the hospital for intoxication. The violation requires appearance in court and payment of a fine. Local ordinance violations do not typically appear on criminal history checks, Stasolla said.

Campbell also said that students with off-campus housing can still face University penalties if they get in trouble with local police, but this is not a new tactic. Towns and Communities Together (TAC) is a partnership between neighboring towns, universities and bar owners that report incidents to one another, he said.

Several Lawrenceville SGA members said the new alcohol policy is too vague and does not give definite answers. But that is exactly what the University wants.

“To define it so specifically makes it hard to enforce,” Stasolla said.

Campbell went on to say that unlike the law, which is clear and is only seen as right and wrong, Rider’s new policies allow for discussion.
“You wouldn’t want everything black and white,” he said.

The mandatory online program for freshmen, AlcoholEDU, designed to track drinking patterns around the school and country, was completed on Wednesday.

Freshmen who did not complete the program are not eligible for course selection for the spring semester or for housing selection.

“We feel this course is important for freshmen,” Stasolla said.

In addition to the new policy-related recommendations already in effect for this semester, five additional Public Safety officers have been added, for a total of seven hired since the start of the semester.

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