The Scarlet & Black

The Independent Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
May 6, 2024
Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
May 6, 2024
Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
May 6, 2024

Administration amends campus alcohol policy and 10/10

The alcohol policy changes add new controls to drinking in campus lounges, affecting annual traditions like 10/10.
The alcohol policy changes add new controls to drinking in campus lounges, affecting annual traditions like 10/10. Photo by Jeff Li.

By Emma Friedlander

Students received a special campus memo from President Raynard Kington on August 1 announcing that a number of new alcohol-related policies will be implemented in the upcoming 2016-2017 school year. Although alcohol use has long been a common conversation topic among Grinnell students and administration alike, these changes have put an official stance on the discussion.

These policies, which aim to reduce the prevalence of alcohol in campus culture, were crafted by Andrea Conner, Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Mike Latham, Vice President of Academic Affairs.

“We’ve been looking at these issues for several years now,” Kington said. “Every year we’ve been asking ourselves, how are we going to compare to our peers? Are we doing everything we can to ensure the Grinnell experience is what we want it to be?”

The policies were informed by data and recommendations from Grinnell’s Task Force on Residential Learning, the National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, expert consultation, sexual assault prevention research and Grinnell’s 2015 spring survey and legal requirements.

The policies are comprised of four major changes: providing substance-free housing for every student who requests it, restricting the use of alcohol in campus lounges, training servers for campus events and revising campus traditions that feature alcohol consumption. One of the most notable changes is the reconstruction of 10/10, an annual tradition wherein students travel around campus drinking alcohol at designated locations.

“For the hundreds of students that don’t attend the party, it’s not community building or unifying,” Conner said of 10/10. “There’s always something after the 10/10 party that we can’t be proud of. I would be really excited to see a student or young alum be asked about their favorite tradition at Grinnell and have their answer be something other than a couple of alcohol related parties.”

The decision to replace 10/10 is influenced by the new policy’s increased control of alcohol in campus lounges. Conner noted that previous regulations did not adequately protect against underage or dangerous drinking at campus events. The new regulations also aim to streamline the process of hosting a lounge event.

“We had no institutional regulations in place to ensure that alcohol was not being consumed by people under 21. Thankfully, we have a lot of privacy as a private institution, but kitchens and lounges are public spaces,” Conner said. “We hope that the use of alcohol agreements skyrockets. Some of my staff in the last week or so have been working to streamline the alcohol agreement process so that it’s not an obstruction for people to continue to socialize.”

Student Government Association President Anita Dewitt ’17 stated that although further alcohol restrictions were inevitable, she wishes students had more input. Dewitt reported that she and other SGA members had little communication with the administration during the creation of the policies and that Conner warned them of the changes only a couple of days before the official announcement.

“The administration knew it was a liability to keep doing these things,” Dewitt said. “They said, ‘We talked to students about they want,’ but the bottom line is if something happens to the students while they’re here and they don’t have these policies in place and people don’t know about them, [the administration] can get in a lot of trouble.”

Despite Dewitt’s disappointment in the administration’s practices, she is optimistic about the SGA and student body’s ability to implement positive change going forward. She believes that the committee of students tasked with deciding on a different event for 10/10, which will be comprised of members from SGA, Weekend, Ultimate Frisbee, Concerned Black Students and other campus groups, will come up with an exciting and productive event.

“I would really like to see the new 10/10 be played as a sort of community service thing. Community service is something that nobody is going to show up to blazed. If we do something in the community I think people will be a lot less subject to alcohol … It’s going to be tricky but I have a good amount of faith in the students,” Dewitt said.

Other students have expressed similar concerns about the new policies’ specific restrictions not effectively preventing dangerous drinking practices. One such student is Dylan Ambrosoli ’18, a previous Student Advisor [SA] for Clark Hall who chose to discontinue his student staff role in the upcoming school year.

Last spring, Ambrosoli hosted a campus event called “The Funeral for Self-Gov?”, a mock funeral which provided a venue for students to discuss the current state of Self-Governance at Grinnell. Originally called “The Funeral for Self-Gov,” the administration required Ambrosoli to add a question mark to the official title in order for the event to proceed.

“My overall concern would be where people will end up drinking,” Ambrosoli said of the new policies. “This is a sort of reactive policy rather than a proactive policy. Ultimately it’s not going to affect students’ decision to drink, it’s just going to affect where and how they drink. My concern is that by removing more public spaces and lounges, [drinking] might enter into people’s rooms, which would lead to antisocial behavior, or it could enter into more off campus events, where there will be less immediate response from various sorts of response services.”

Kington and Conner recognize this potential consequence, as well as the need to put more protections for off-campus incidents in place.

“We previously had one program where a training session was issued to off-campus residents. We need to expand that program pretty dramatically so that folks have opportunity to learn about resources or know that they can contact campus security or the RLC on-call about an off-campus incident,” Conner said. “We have some work to do in this area to make sure that’s not an unintended consequence of these policy changes.”

The special campus memo also rearticulated the introduction of regular walkthroughs in campus residence halls by Community Advisors (CAs). When this new CA duty was announced last spring, it resulted in wide speculation of what the walkthroughs would entail and whether they might compromise the relationship between CAs and their residents.

“Nothing that the CA would confront would ever result in a punitive measure,” Conner said. “We solely expect that with their good training and the respect of their peers, their moments of intervention on any issue should be successful … There’s no expectation to call the police.”

This new CA responsibility requires additional training and, Dewitt expects, additional time commitment and pressures for the CAs.

“Andrea Conner came and talked to [the CAs] so that they can ask questions specific to their role in the alcohol policies. A lot of what she said is that [the walkthroughs] are to their discretion,” Dewitt said. “They also now have on-call procedures, and I just know it’s going to be a lot of work.”

Dramatic policy changes governing student behavior have naturally fueled conversations about the current state of Self-Governance at Grinnell College. When asked about what increased restrictions mean for Self-Gov, Kington expressed that the problem is not a reduction of Self-Gov, but instead a wide misinterpretation of what Self-Gov means.

“It’s about community responsibility, not just privileges,” Kington said. “This is really about that: a responsibility to care about other people and act as a community to do what you can to promote a positive healthy experience for your peers. That part of the Self-Gov concept is often ignored.”

Ambrosoli, informed by his role conducting public conversations on Self-Gov in the past, doubts the extent to which Self-Gov is prioritized by the administration when making these decisions.

“When I was working on the funeral event, my alumnus faculty advisor posited to me, ‘Has Self-Gov ever not been dead at Grinnell?’ which was his initial takeaway. He thought that during his time at Grinnell Self-Gov was already pretty dead, and given what’s changed it’s become even more dead,” Ambrosoli said. “I think that Self-Governance, probably around the time that we were arriving at Grinnell but definitely now, is more of a marketing buzzword than something that’s super important in and of itself.”

The new policies are official, but their implementation is only just beginning. President Kington will host a Town Hall Meeting to allow students to learn more and discuss opinions about the policy changes during the 11 a.m. community hour on Tuesday, Aug. 30.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
Donate to The Scarlet & Black
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Scarlet & Black Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *