Yesterday, the President of the College welcomed first year parents in a Mead Chapel “town hall” Q&A session and took several question on the issue of alcohol on campus. Ron’s message solidified the stance adopted last year of focusing on destructive drinking and community values on campus while still adhering to Vermont’s drinking laws
Residential Adviser (RA) training continues this week and is beginning to reflect the philosophical changes the President outlined. One of the major talking points for RAs, FYCs, and CRAs is finding ways to make students accountable to one another instead of to an “authority” like Public Safety or the Health Center. And as a part of this accountability, the residential staff is trying out a system that relies on friend networks:
If a student needs medical attention, Public Safety will transport him or her to Porter Hospital. If a student is intoxicated and with friends, the responsibility will be on the friends to stay with that person. If a student is intoxicated and alone, Public Safety will transport that person to a “duty office” where residential staff will attempt to “find a sober friend” for that person or stay with the person until morning. If at any time a student’s condition worsens, Public Safety will take back intoxicated students from friends/residential staff for transport to the hospital.
This will help pick up slack for the closure of the Health Center at night and Public Safety who are most busy between the hours of 2-4AM. The “duty office” is essentially babysitting drunk people and residential staff will be paid for their service (currently $40/night but look for the market rate for this job to increase) from 2AM to 6:30AM on weekend nights. The location of the “duty office” is the basement of Ross, in the old gym space. Two years ago, residential staff tried a “hotline” system where residential staff would be called to take care of smaller incidents (like noise complaints) to release Public Safety for more serious matters.
The idea is to stigmatize going to the “duty office” (please rename it to something like “the fish bowl” or “the tank”) because it really means you have no friends to take care of you. And if your friends are taking care of you, they aren’t going to be pleased doing so and will have a word with you when you sober up, chief.
Will underage drinking citations go away? No — Vermont law, remember? But this new system will be different and will take some time to get used to. Expect the residential staff led by Senior Residence Director Lee Zerilla to tweak the system as the semester unfolds.