Surveys Say…

Princeton U., Rider have similar drinking habits

By Olivia Tattory

The death of freshman Gary DeVercelly Jr. nearly a year ago served as a “chilling reminder” of the dangers of drinking for Princeton University and played a role in the ongoing study of its own alcohol policies, said a Princeton spokesperson.

According to Cass Cliatt, Princeton began taking a serious look at alcohol abuse 10 years ago when the Trustee Initiative was formed. However, since then the university has continued to build upon those policies, including a recent revision similar to one at Rider.

In an unsystematic survey conducted by The Daily Princetonian in November, and later replicated by The Rider News, students were asked their thoughts on the revised policies and whether or not they are effective. Findings were similar on most questions on the surveys, which were administered to 244 students at Princeton and 248 at Rider.

Since October, Princeton University’s Public Safety officers increased their patrolling of residence halls to include the inside of the buildings on Thursday and Saturday nights.

“We have increased patrols within the dorms when there were higher alcohol incidents and when we believe students would most likely engage in those types of activities,” said Cliatt.

Rider also instituted a walk-through policy in September, requiring Public Safety to regularly patrol inside residence halls and Greek houses.

Rider students are more likely to consume alcohol off campus, while Princeton University students prefer to drink in eating clubs, surveys of the two universities have shown. Students responded similarly on the other 19 questions.

As part of the survey, students were asked whether they have noticed this increased Public Safety patrolling. Rider’s results, 67 percent of respondents answered “yes,” compared with 23 percent who said “no” and 10 percent who replied “not sure,” suggest that students are aware of at least one of the revisions.

This is a somewhat stark contrast from The Princetonian’s results to the same question. When asked whether students have noticed increased Public Safety patrolling in dorms since the policy change, 49 percent answered “yes,” 45 percent responded “no” and six percent said “not sure.”

The 20-question survey also asked whether they were even aware that there had been revisions to the University’s alcohol enforcement policies. Changes at Rider include a newly instituted Good Samaritan Policy, the change in policy to admit underage students into the Pub on certain nights and the banning of all parties with alcohol in residence halls and Greek Houses.

An overwhelming 89 percent of Rider students said “yes” they are aware changes were made to the policies. Topping the 73 percent of surveyed students at Princeton who said they were aware of their new rules.

Being aware that changes were made compared to understanding what the changes actually are, are two very different things, said Rider’s Substance Abuse Coordinator Mark Fisher.

“Yes, I do think that the majority of students are aware that the alcohol policies have changed,” said Fisher. “Can I say they listened to it [or have] really looked at it? I don’t know.”

When asked what Rider students feel prompted the University’s revision of the policies, 62 percent chose “legal liability” compared to the 38 percent who chose “concern for student health,” the 25 percent who answered “outside pressures such as parental/alumni concern” or the 16 percent who responded “not sure.”

Although 62 percent of students surveyed chose legal accountability, Fisher believes students are aware of the real reasons behind the revamping of the University’s alcohol policies.

“I think students do understand that [the University] wanted to move toward personal responsibility and the safety of the students when the revisions were made,” he said.

Those surveyed were also asked whether they thought the new policy will serve as a deterrent to drinking in residence hall rooms. Only 34 percent of students feel they are either a strong or mild deterrent, while 51 percent chose “no, it won’t be a deterrent.”

The results at Princeton were very similar, with 33 percent of respondents saying that the changes will be either a strong or mild deterrent, and 55 percent responding that it won’t be a deterrent.

Rider’s Presidential Task Force on Alcohol, Personal Responsibility and Student Life plans on assessing the policy changes at the conclusion of the semester.

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