University alcohol policy refined for clarity

By Dalton Karwacki

The newly announced changes to the university’s student handbook, The Source, will help students understand the new alcohol policy, according to Dean of Students Anthony Campbell.

The changes reflect obligations undertaken by Rider as part of the settlement with the family of Gary DeVercelly Jr., a freshman who died as the result of an alleged hazing incident in March 2007. The new wording is mostly clarifications of  existing policies and practices. These include explanations of state laws, specific condemnations of hazing and added emphasis on the responsibility of Greek and other student organizations.

“Many of the changes we made early on in the Presidential Task Force were geared to our culture and to making it safe,” Campbell said.

The amended alcohol policy, for instance, takes a much stronger stance against hazing. It now explicitly states that the Good Samaritan Policy may not protect against university action for violations found to be connected with hazing. Also Rider may enact harsher hazing penalties, in addition to possible criminal prosecution and potential loss of the university’s recognition of any student organizations involved.

“We’ve moved the maximum penalties for hazing from level two to level one, which could include expulsion from the university,” Campbell said.

Some of the alcohol policy’s revisions are aimed at ensuring that students are familiar with the state and federal laws.

“We also looked at making sure everybody understands the law,” Campbell said.

In demonstration of this goal, an entire extra note was added to the end of the policy.

“Students found to be providing alcohol to underage students may also be issued additional sanctions including, but not limited to, loss of housing and dismissal from the university,” it says. “Groups or organizations, including Greek chapters, found to be providing alcohol to underage students may risk withdrawal of recognition by the university.”

The changes to the student handbook also extend to the Student Organizations Clubs and Activities section.

These modifications make it clear that student groups, including Greek organizations, are not exempt from university policy and state the penalties for failure to adhere.

A new paragraph, for instance, states, “All recognized clubs, organizations, fraternities and sororities must abide by all university policies and code of conduct as well as New Jersey State and Federal Laws. Recognized clubs, organizations, fraternities and sororities found in violation of the University’s alcohol or hazing policies may face withdrawal of recognition by the University.”

The Greek Life portion of the Student Life and Housing section also saw changes.

One such change reiterates the fact that fraternities and sororities are “expected to follow federal, state, university and local rules, regulations and policies that are applicable to such groups.” It goes on to say that the organizations are responsible for violations by their members, if the violation is in connection with fraternity or sorority life. Also, the handbook now states that Rider does not recognize fraternities or sororities with an official off-campus residential house.

Campbell emphasized that students generally will not notice a change, as the most of the modifications to The Source are more precisely defined descriptions of existing policy.

“Basically, we wanted to clarify things for students and to make stronger statements about certain things than we had been,” he said.

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