By Jeff Frankel
Neighboring public and private colleges across the state are reviewing their own alcohol policies in light of Gary DeVercelly’s death.
“Certainly we’re well aware of what happened at Rider,” said Matt Golden, The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) spokesperson for the state school in Ewing.
“We’re going to look closely at our policy; it’s what we do whenever there is a crisis at another institution.”
Rider freshman Gary DeVercelly, of Long Beach, Calif., allegedly drank himself to death last March at an alleged Phi Kappa Tau hazing incident.
Administrators at Rowan University, another state school in Glassboro, are also re-examining their own set of policies regarding alcohol and under-age drinking.
“It’s reviewed on an annual basis,” said the school’s Director of Media and Public Relations Joe Cardona. “We have a pretty tight system.”
In Rowan’s case, fraternities and sororities are all off-campus, but most houses are rented from the university, Cardona said. Only one is actually owned.
Similar to Rider, beer kegs are not allowed and parties are controlled and regulated.
“All students must register parties,” Cardona said.
According to Golden, an alcohol summit was held at TCNJ months before the disappearance of freshman John Fiocco in 2006.
Although not confirmed by authorities, it was reported that Fiocco had been drinking the night he disappeared. His body was later found in a landfill in Pennsylvania.
Even after he went missing, the college took another look at their policies, Golden said.
“What we try to [do is] constantly look at the best practices out there and implement the best possible support and care for our students,” Golden said.
Most New Jersey schools have underage drinking rules similar to Rider’s. However, some schools have made it a policy to notify parents or guardians for all alcohol-and drug-related offenses.
“If an underage student receives a letter of warning for an alcohol or drug violation and the director of residential and community development or the director of community standards determine the student to be a danger to self or others, parents or legal guardians may be notified of the violation,” according to the TCNJ alcohol and drug policy.
Rider has only implemented notifying parents or guardians this year. Before that, the University did not notify them if the student had only one alcohol “strike.”
Several residence halls at Rowan are considered to be “dry living units” regardless of age, the school’s policy states. Some townhouses on the school’s property are “wet” units, meaning students can drink, but only if all the residents living there are of legal age.
Seton Hall University, a private institution, has a hazing policy on its South Orange campus that requires all fraternities and sororities to attend mandatory anti-hazing workshops and seminars once a semester, said Seton Hall ZBT spokesperson Jim Siano.
Up the road at Princeton University, another private school, students are expected to act appropriately when they are on campus as well as when off campus, especially on Prospect Street where there are a number of social eating clubs, its alcohol policy states.
“In particular, [eating] club members are to act with considerate regard for the rights, privileges, and sensibilities of others. It is expected that they will show due consideration for the property of their fellow members and guests, as well as for the property of the club itself,” according to the policy.