Angry students flood CCAOD info meeting
More than 300 students crowded into Cook Auditorium last night for the information session on the recently released alcohol policy report of the College Committee on Alcohol and Other Drugs -- a report which has stirred many questions and strong opinions among the student body.
Many students, some visibly angered by the recommendations of the committee, voiced their concerns to the panel consisting of CCAOD members about the future of the Coed-Fraternity and Sorority system as well as the report's ramifications on the social culture at Dartmouth.
"The hope is to moderate the use of alcohol across the board and still have a strong social life," Dean of the Tucker Foundation Scott Brown said.
The 20-page report criticizes the College's current alcohol policy, particularly the current CFS self-monitoring system. If the proposal is approved by Dean of the College Lee Pelton, Safety and Security officers will be able to patrol fraternity basements during College-registered parties, and a maximum three keg limit will be imposed for a single CFS social event.
The panel -- which consisted of CCAOD members, including College Counsel and Chair Sean Gorman, who authored the report, Associate Dean of the College Dan Nelson, Brown, Assistant Dean of Residential Life Deb Reinders and College Proctor Bob McEwen, among others -- emphasized throughout the session that the committee's recommendations did not constitute the final alcohol policy.
Pelton, who was not a member of the panel, said he had "great faith" in the student body to "intelligently" participate in the direction of the recommendations.
However, students seemed unsatisfied with many of the panelists' answers and snickered as Gorman deflected many of their questions with an abrupt, "No."
Gorman explained the committee has been grappling with the College's legal responsibilities since 1990, when the federal government passed the Drug Free School and Community Act, which mandates that colleges and universities receiving federal funding enforce the state's legal drinking age of 21 amongst it students body.
"According to the law, we must monitor compliance, enforce compliance and report what you're doing," Gorman said.
Previous to the Act, however, the College has left the decision to drink at the discretion of individual students, Gorman said.
But many students wondered why the College enforced a much stricter alcohol policy than some of its Ivy League counterparts.
One student said during one of his visits to Brown University, he and others were served alcohol even in the presence of security officers.
Nelson said compliance with the law was an issue which other colleges are struggling with as well.
Nelson alluded to the recent alcohol-related death of Massachusetts Institute of Technology student Scott Krueger, and explained schools under the University of Massachusetts system are currently debating whether to ban alcohol on its campuses.
However, no school has ever been denied federal funding for violating this law, Gorman said.
Students also wondered exactly how Safety and Security monitoring would work -- under what circumstances officers would enter and which violations they would be looking for.
McEwan said the exact process and circumstances in which Safety and Security officers would monitor fraternity parties has not yet been determined.
"In the spirit of the policy, we want to meet with CFS leaders to discuss ways in which this can be implemented," McEwan said.
However, many students were concerned that any presence of Safety and Security officers would drive students to drink in less-controlled environments such as rooms in residence halls and off-campus apartments.
Many students were also angered by the proposed limitation of kegs at fraternity parties.
"If I'm 21, who's to say I can't have all the kegs I want?" one student said. "Why can't I have all the kegs I want?"
At this Pelton jumped from his seat and replied, "You can have as many kegs as you want. You can have as many kegs as you want under certain circumstances," he clarified further.
Pelton explained that keg limitations only applied during College-registered social events, but students over the legal drinking age of 21 can choose to drink at their own discretion.
"We have an obligation -- legally, morally, personally and socially -- to comply with the law," Pelton said. "We hope the CFS leaders will lead the train in compliance with the law."
Brown said he thought the amount of drinking that occurs on campus was a "self-fulfilling prophesy," and if students' attitudes change, the role of alcohol on campus will change also.
"Students can make it happen," Reinders said. "But they need to have the student culture making it happen."
The information session was arranged by the Student Assembly two weeks prior to the release of the report. Assembly President Frode Eilertsen '99 said the Assembly will prepare a counter-report with student proposed recommendations to present to the CCAOD during sometime in Winter term.