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Policy on outdoor drinking under review

There won’t be a beer garden at Grinnell House Wars this Saturday, Sept. 25, and there might not even be beer outdoors at this year’s Grinnell Relays—a major change from last year.

Recently, the Department of Student Affairs denied organizers’ request for an outdoor beer garden at this weekend’s party, citing a policy outlined in the Student Handbook. However, two events last spring—Grinnell Relays and Selah—served beer to students outside with official permission.

“Even though [outdoor beer gardens] have been approved only rarely in the past, [they] are anomalous exceptions to the current alcohol policy,” Dean of Students Travis Greene wrote in an email.

Grinnell’s alcohol policy, available on the College’s website in the student handbook, describes the specific locations students are allowed to drink alcohol on Grinnell property.

“Alcohol may only be possessed or consumed by students of legal drinking age in student rooms in residence halls and/or College-owned houses, Lyle’s Pub…and, when authorized, in the Harris Center Concert Hall, in residence hall lounges, Gardner Lounge, and public spaces in College-owned houses,” the policy reads.

Though the petition for outdoor beer at House Wars was denied, administrators praised the proposal, which was submitted by Jordan Bell-Masterson ’12 and Student Government Association (SGA) Treasurer Gabe Schechter ’12.

The proposal included conditions on the party meant to ensure safe and legal alcohol consumption, such as offering more food alongside the alcohol and checking IDs.

“I think the proposal itself was strong and very well thought out,” said Wellness Coordinator Jen Jacobsen ’95. “They were really thoughtful of a harm reduction approach, taking safety measures really seriously.”

Jacobsen co-chairs the Harm Reduction Committee with SGA Vice President of Student Affairs (VPSA) Holden Bale ’12.

Bale and SGA President Ben Offenberg ’11, who served as VPSA and co-chair of the Committee last year, identified timing as House Wars’ greatest obstacle.

“[Event organizers] started the conversation with Student Affairs too late in the process,” Offenberg said.

“There was no way we could convene the committee in time to try and deal with anything,” Bale wrote in an email. “Rewriting of any policy would take a significant amount of time—we’re talking a semester at minimum, not a week.”

The Harm Reduction Committee plans to review the current policy in the near future.

“The alcohol policy says where you can have alcohol on campus, but not where you can’t,” Offenberg said. “I think what we’ll take away from this is to clarify the policy.”

Jacobsen agreed there is a need for review.

“I’m not in a position to accept or reject policy, [but] that policy is applied inconsistently,” she said. “I think everyone would be more comfortable with a single, clear policy.”

According to Jacobsen, the Harm Reduction Committee only makes recommendations.

Students may see official changes to the campus alcohol policy in coming months, depending on the Committee’s findings and how they are implemented. But according to Greene, students will not be given permission to drink alcohol outdoors until then.

“Until the inconsistencies with the alcohol policy are addressed,” he said, “no outdoor beer gardens will be approved, either for Grinnell Wars or Relays.”

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  • K

    King DuckSep 24, 2010 at 11:03 am

    Wow. This makes complete sense, anyways. I mean, drinking outdoors–I have a family that likes to drink out doors during BBQs, softball games, outdoor theater productions and other DEVIOUS BEHAVIORS.

    I think we should all model my uncle, though, who drinks in his room alone. I mean, why would anyone think its alright to drink outside in privately owned property?!!? Think of the damage that could be caused! I can’t think of any examples right now, but trust me…I will!