Under New Policy UVM Campus Dries Up

Last week UVM students received a mass email from Residential Life informing them that all residence halls are becoming alcohol free, regardless of a student’s age. This came as a shock to many students, especially the three hundred and seventy students of legal drinking age who will be living in the dorms next year. The email encouraged students who are twenty one and have fulfilled their on-campus housing requirements, to consider this change when deciding on housing for the fall. This new policy came from the recommendation of a task force made up of students, faculty, and administration. It is the first recommendation of the group, which examines University problems that relate to alcohol and other illegal substances. Provost John Bramley, who appointed the members of the task force, made this comment: “We are seeking to better interconnect the campus housing environment and the academic life of the University. Alcohol consumption in the residence halls is simply not consistent with that.” Students can expect changes to occur as a result of the new policy. The task force suggested the use of stronger punishment in order to properly enforce the new policy, but these are not expected to be released until the fall. From now on, no specific housing complex or floor will be labeled as substance free, because all dorms are expected to maintain this standard. Overall, many students feel this policy isn’t the correction action. One anonymous RA, from a freshman dorm, remarked, “I think stricter [drinking] policy is needed, but this is not the answer. It’s punishing the wrong group.” Another senior RA believes that “the current effort to deal with on-campus drinking is legitimate.” He does think that taking steps to deal with drinking is a good thing, but that “in the opinion of most RA’s, dry residence halls are not the best way to deal with it.” An issue that lots of RA’s expressed is that the “decision was made by a very select group of students that’s not representative of the student body on-campus.” The task force only included three students. The senior RA also commented that he “has never had an issue with busting twenty one year olds in the dorms. He said, “It’s interesting that people who have asked for statistics on the twenty one year old drinking problem [in dorms], have received no answers.”Since most of the guidelines of the new policy are not worked out yet, “the decision seems like more of a PR front for the University than something that will control the problem,” the RA expressed.One student, who has been a RA for 3 years, says he has seen an increase in the amount underclassman drinking as well as a decrease in the time they drink large quantities. He stated, “Do I think the Class of 2009 is a little out of control [with their drinking]? Yes.” He also identified that in his first month as a freshman dorm RA this year “I wrote up more people than I did all last year.” He thinks that the new ‘dry policy’ targets an interesting group because it goes against the Universities prior initiative to have upperclassman stay on-campus. These upperclassmen should serve as role models to other students in the dorms. He added, “It just doesn’t make sense.” Freshman Matthew Perrone feels that the new policy could have negative results. “I think that it is going to really push people to live off-campus. Hopefully they’ll find a better way to implement these rules without being too harsh at first.” It seems that those who are most worried about the change in policy are underclassman, not those students of age who live in residence halls. “Underage students are the ones who are drinking the most in the dorms,” commented freshman resident Audrey Arnold. She added, “Since it is already illegal for them to drink period, I don’t think this new policy is going to change anything.” The addition of a Pub/Bar in the new student center also seems hypocritical to the University’s new policy. Twenty one year old students who can’t drink in their dorm rooms will be allowed to drink at this technically on-campus location. Mercy Hall resident Leah Castrovillari questioned, “It doesn’t make sense that while the dorms are going dry, the school is also putting a bar in the student center. Maybe the school is just trying to make more money?” One Senior RA suggested more cohesive activities across campus should be made to change the alcohol consumption problem, and also that more resources should be put into education on drinking responsibly. He added, “There should be more legitimate sanctions, not just a bulletin board of risks.”