NJ university implements stricter alcohol policy

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September 25, 2007

4:00 PM

__Rider University responds to the death of a student last spring__

p. The New York Times reported that in response to the death of a student last spring, Rider University in Lawrenceville, N.J. implemented a new, stricter alcohol policy. The Times wrote that freshmen are required to take a seminar on the dangers of alcohol usage, “watchdogs” live in fraternity and sorority houses and, with the exception of approved areas, alcohol has been banned.

p. In addition, parents are now notified immediately if a student violates the alcohol policy. Previously, students were given two warnings before parents were be notified.

p. Rider University President Mordechai Rozanski told the Times that he hoped to make the school a “model in the fight to combat alcohol abuse on campus.”

p. The changes stem from the death of Gary DeVercelly, a freshman who died from alcohol poisoning after attending a fraternity party. Three students and two administrators faced indictments of aggravated hazing from a Mercer County, N.J. grand jury.

p. Several students who wished to remain anonymous told the Times that they felt that the Greek system was hit hardest by the alcohol policy.

p. Debbie Stasolla, the associate vice president for planning, said that a task force had discussed the idea of removing Greek life from campus but, worried that too many students would begin partying off-campus, decided against doing so.

p. Phi Kappa Tau, the fraternity who hosted the party DeVercelly attended before his death, dissolved its campus chapter.
According to the Associated Press, the indictments against the school administrators were dropped and the three accused students will not face jail time.

p. Joseph Bocchini, Jr., prosecutor in the case, told the AP that he sought charges against administrators in the hopes that it would change the atmosphere on campus.

p. “The standards of college life, when it relates to alcohol, need to be policed carefully,” he said.

p. According to the Times, the charges against administrators were dropped because the prosecution could not prove that they had an “active role” in the student’s death.

p. The AP reported that DeVercelly’s family was upset with the dismissal of charges and were unhappy that none of the students involved in the incident were being punished.

p. At the time of death, DeVercelly had a blood-alcohol level of .426 percent, which is more than five times New Jersey’s driving limit.

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