If you don’t get it right the first time, you do it again until you get it right. That’s an invaluable lesson we all learned at a very young age and one that Rider needs to heed if its new rules and policies will bring about the change so desperately needed. There is no question that student safety is at the heart of the matter of the new regulations and that effort merits an A+. On the other hand, the administration earns a C+ at best for its enforcement and publicizing of information from the 18-page Presidential Task Force report.
In an informal focus group conducted in a philosophy course on Thursday, Oct. 4, only four students out of the class of about two-dozen knew about the Task Force or policies. The ones who did know were athletes and members of fraternities or sororities. Fraternity brothers and sorority sisters were required to attend a Greek 101 meeting (with the penalty of a fine for not going) where the topics addressed included the alcohol policy. Athletes had a speaker who spoke candidly about abusive drinking. Those efforts represent the type of education that should be reinforced. Waving a big stick at underage students and telling them not to drink may be a must, but having seminars and sessions where students learn to recognize the symptoms of alcohol poisoning should also be given top priority.
While the new policies require resident students to sign that they have received and understood the alcohol policy, we all know that many simply put their “John Hancocks” on the dotted line without even giving a second glance. And that is exactly the problem. Inaccurate rumors swirling around campus about the new policies are the first and only thing some students hear.
One of the aspects of the policy that is unclear is the definition of a party. Previously, resident advisers would tell their students a room with six or more people could be considered a party. Now, the new policy has no explicit definition. It’s understandable that policy makers were reluctant to be too precise. But the incident this past weekend at the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity house had the dynamics of what anyone with common sense would call a party. Fifteen to 30 people in the basement at approximately 4 a.m., as police officers on the scene reported, is not what many would suspect to be a study session. The administration may be trying to provide students with some leeway when hanging out, but this is obviously not working.
What makes matters worse is the way the University handled media reports regarding this latest incident. University spokesperson Dan Higgins insisted to media, “there was no party,” even though as of Wednesday afternoon he said he had not yet spoken with the Lawrence Township Police Department.
There is not going to be a magical solution that makes everything better. But, the “winking” that is going on by some has got to stop. When it is all said and done, though, it is time for students to start acting like responsible adults. Every move students make is being scrutinized by the media, who are ready to pounce on Rider since Gary DeVercelly’s death. A frat-house fight that might have resulted in a news brief in the past became headline news. That’s the hand we’ve been dealt. But we can still win if we students start taking responsibility and show them that Rider is on the right course.
Written By Opinion Editor, Jamie Papapetros