As vice chair of the Presidential Task Force on Alcohol, Personal Responsibility and Student Life, I have had the opportunity, along with several of my colleagues, to speak with a variety of student and faculty groups over the past month regarding the Task Force’s recommendations. As you know, the Task
Force was established by President Rozanski to develop a set of recommendations to help protect the health and safety of our University community as it is affected by the use and misuse of alcohol. It was comprised of faculty, staff and students from across both campuses and issued its report on June 19.
These discussions have helped to promote a better understanding of the Task Force’s intent, dispelling a number of misconceptions. The Task Force’s overall goal is to reduce the incidence of high risk and excessive drinking among our students, a growing challenge among colleges and universities nationwide. It was not the Task Force’s intent to ban totally the consumption of alcohol on our campuses. Nor was its intent to reduce fun, force drinking off campus, or abolish our Greek community.
The Task Force instead recognized the degree to which alcohol is a part of the American culture and only legal for individuals 21 and over. It would be unrealistic, therefore, to promote dry campuses. It would also run counter to our commitment to the education of the whole student through which we provide a variety of experiences that support students’ intellectual growth, self-awareness, interpersonal skills and decision-making, and sense of personal and community responsibility. Students must make decisions, as we all do, regarding alcohol and its place in their lives. Through the implementation of the task force recommendations, we hope to influence this decision-making and promote more responsible choices.
At the same time, however, the Task Force reiterated the responsibility Rider has to ensure the lawful consumption of alcohol on our campuses. We will not permit underage drinking. And we must ensure the appropriate level of oversight and safety for alcohol-related events as part of our social events policy.
As revised, the social events policy will provide opportunity for all student-run organizations to host events, with alcohol, specific to their organizations in the Pub and later into Cranberry’s when our license is approved. In addition, the Pub’s availability has been extended. Beginning this week, it is open for organization-specific events on Saturdays the first half of the month and Fridays the second half. On the alternate Fridays and Saturdays and every Thursday, the Pub is open to all ages. That was particularly important to students. On all-age nights, the Pub is available to student groups to host “open nights” based on particular themes or entertainment. In addition, the Pub opens at 4 p.m. on Thursdays as opposed to its regular opening time of 9 p.m. It is our hope that students, faculty and staff will take advantage of these opportunities as well as the newly expanded hours of the SRC, BLC and WCC Student Center.
With regard to the Greek-related recommendations, it was not the intent of the Task Force to punish or single out our Greek community. Instead, the Task Force affirmed the importance of our Greek chapters and sought to reinforce several of our Strategic Plan directions in promoting the establishment of a shared system of governance within the Greek community. The recommendations will ensure a closer working relationship between the University and the Greek community in support of the governance of their chapters and houses.
I am encouraged by the feedback I’ve received from student government, Senate and Greek leaders with whom I’ve talked. Many have embraced the recommendations as an important step toward reducing abusive drinking and creating an even safer and healthier learning environment for all.
To view the Task Force report visit:
— Debbie Stasolla
Associate Vice President for Planning