Alcohol policy to be reviewed

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April 28, 2009

3:53 AM

At last week’s meeting of the City of Williamsburg’s Focus Group on Rental Properties Near the College of
William and Mary, group member Michael J. Fox, College chief of staff and secretary to the Board of Visitors, announced that the College would undertake a review and possible revision of the school’s alcohol policy.

“[College] President [Taylor] Reveley has heard concerns that restrictive alcohol policies on-campus may be moving parties off campus,” Fox said in an e-mail. “In our ongoing efforts to work with members of the Williamsburg community — this is an issue [the College] will explore more this year.”

According to Fox and Reveley, no other details are currently available.

“Other than the need to take a look at the policy, I haven’t thought carefully about how best to do it or begun consulting other people to get their wisdom on a likely approach,” Reveley said. “I usually want to identify which aspects of a policy have been working well and why, and what realistic ways [there are] to
build on the former and remedy the latter.”

Student Assembly Sens. Ross Gillingham ’10, Ben Brown ’11 and Steven Nelson ’10 co-sponsored a bill in
September urging Reveley to sign the Amethyst Initiative. Gillingham said they support a review of the alcohol policy but hope it will address more than off-campus parties.

The Amethyst Initiative is an organization of college and university presidents and chancellors that calls for informed debate of the 21-year-old drinking age. Reveley is not a signatory of the initiative.

“I think that that’s certainly a good stated goal because that’s at least part of the problem, is making sure that students aren’t going to [off-campus] parties and driving or doing any other unsafe activities, but at the same time, there are certainly other parts of the policy that need to be re-evaluated as well,” Gillingham said.

Other policy issues, according to Brown, involve student health and safety.

“The main thing I think, from President Reveley’s standpoint, is to keep drinking on campus, but I guess another large concern I would say, from the health and safety side is making sure people are drinking more responsibly,” Brown said. “I think the current alcohol policy is definitely forcing drinking inside or behind closed doors — sort of, you know, binge drinking and pre-gaming before going to an event.”

Many of the policies Brown and Gillingham would like to see revised trace back to recommendations of the College’s 2003 Task Force on Social Events Where Alcohol is Permitted

The task force was established by former President Timothy J. Sullivan in response to the alleged sexual assault of a 16-year-old in the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity house in September 2003.

According to Brown, former SA President Valerie Hopkins ’09 asked him and Undersecretary of College
Policy for Drug and Alcohol Reform Will Sinnott ’11 to compose a report over winter break comparing the College’s alcohol policies, including those instituted in 2003, to the policies of other colleges.

Brown says the report, which also lists suggestions for policy revision, will be amended further over the summer before it is presented to Reveley.

“I hope to be in pretty close contact with [Reveley] over the summer,” Brown said. “And then, whenever he’s ready to sit down and take a pretty good look at it — I would assume it would be right-off-the-bat fall semester — any changes that he would decide to make wouldn’t be enacted until the year after because the code of conduct and the alcohol policy would be under review in the spring every year. So those changes wouldn’t be enacted, I guess, until spring of 2010 and then go into effect in 2011.”

Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs Mark Constantine declined to comment on the review announced
Thursday until further information was released.

“I’ll tell you this; in our office we have an Alcohol and Substance Abuse Committee on campus, and we’re always interested in comments and feedback and looking at the alcohol policy on a yearly basis to know whether or not there are some things that we can review or modify,” Constantine said.

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