By Lauren Santye
There has been a lot of discussion among students this semester about the changes that have been made to Rider’s alcohol and cyber-harassment policies.
Rumors have been going around about the role of Public Safety and about underage students having to leave the room if alcohol is present. Dean of Students Anthony Campbell clears up the policy.
“With this change in policy we are trying to make it unambiguous and take away a lot of confusion,” he said. “We are trying to create a safe environment on campus.”
The alcohol policy generally prohibits any person under 21 years of age from being in the presence of alcoholic beverages (consumed or possessed) other than in the Rider Pub or other licensed facility or approved event.
However, there is an exception to the rule. A student who is of legal age can consume alcohol in his or her room even if his or her roommate is underage. However, if more people 21 and older enter the room, the underage student has a few options. The Source gives some suggestions on what to do if students who cannot legally drink find themselves in a situation where they are knowingly in the presence of alcohol.
According to the alcohol policy, the underage students could remove themselves from the situation immediately, ask the individual(s) with the alcohol to leave or dispose of the alcohol, or notify Rider staff.
There are different styles of dorms on campus. Lincoln, Ziegler, Moore and West Village, for example, have different layouts. If a student is 21 or older and has friends over, they can drink in that student’s room, while the underage roommate can not be in the same room. If they’re drinking in the common room area, then this is a violation of the policy.
If a violation is found, not only will the underage student get fined, but those who are 21 or older will be punished as well.
Kevin Whitehead, who is a senior majoring in journalism, vents his opinion on the policy change.
“The school’s getting worse, splitting campus life between students who are underage and those of legal age,” he said. “Behind closed doors, Rider is separating two types of students — this is extreme.”
If the underage student is sleeping and the student of legal drinking age has friends over, the underage student will not get in trouble because he or she is not “knowingly” in the presence of alcohol. Therefore, that student does not have to leave the room.
Dean Campbell defines “knowingly in the presence of” as, “If you know they are drinking and that there is alcohol.”
The policy also forbids any alcohol-related collections like liquor bottles, shot glasses, wine glasses, etc. According to Campbell, the reason for this is that students would say that their empty beer cans or row of shot glasses were a part of a collection when caught.
A student who chose to be anonymous spoke about his opposition to the new rules.
“I’ve witnessed the alcohol policy change in front of my eyes,” he said. “Thankfully I’ve never had an alcohol violation, but this new change is absurd, I’m 21 and I’m not an alcoholic, but if I have alcohol paraphernalia like a shot glass, I shouldn’t be penalized. I know Rider is a private school and can make their own rules, but this is too much. Rider doesn’t trust the students. Some people are safe and responsible with alcohol. Most people who drink do it to have a good time and unwind.”
Theoretically, Campbell said, Rider’s reasons for getting rid of collections is to help avoid abusive drinking.
“If there’s a limit to shot glasses then there’s a limit to how they use it,” Campbell said. “Rider does not want to encourage alcohol-related collections.”
Rider’s Anti-Harassment Non-Discrimination Policy has also made some changes. It has become more specific in regards to cyberbullying, as a result of civil rights legislation.
According to The Source, using any form of electronic communication to threaten, humiliate, harass, intimidate, or discriminate against an individual or a class of individuals; or sending threatening, harassing, intimidating, or discriminating messages to anyone, including using the university email server to send such messages to individuals outside of the university, is considered cyberharassment.
It also includes things like text messaging, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Domestic violence has also been added to Rider’s policy after Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act.
Some of the newly added things that are considered cyberharassment stem from the controversial website raterider.com that was launched and then shut down immediately last year, Campbell said.
Raterider.com was a website put together by students that took pictures from people’s Facebook profiles The site put up two pictures of different girls and asked users to click on which one was “hotter.”
Sophomore journalism major Ariana Albarella has experienced the effects of a website like raterider.com.
“While I’m glad that the administration is aware of cyberharassment, I feel that it shouldn’t have taken something like raterider.com for the policy to be updated,” she said. “A lot of female students, including myself, had their privacy violated, and had there been a section of The Source dedicated to the consequences of behavior considered to be cyberbullying, those responsible may not have proceeded in creating the site. I am grateful for the step that has been taken to prevent something like this from happening again and can only hope that it allows for a positive move toward controlling cyberharassment.”
Rider added cyberbullying because the Internet and technology have become part of this generation’s lives, and The Source needed to be updated to keep up with the times, Campbell said.