Dean Jordan addresses changes on campus [Live-blog]

President Liebowitz, Dean Jordan, and Dean Spears are in McCullough addressing changes on campus for the 2009-2010 school year. [I know! It’s long. But there’s a lot of good little nuggets, so stick it out.]

8:03: According to Liebowitz, H1N1 and alcohol policies are the most common concerns amongst parents.

8:05: Liebowitz claims alcohol is his biggest concern when it comes to social life. He wants students to be more responsible for social life. Changes in policy aren’t about cost cutting or the health center closing, but rather is about how to teach students to be responsible in social settings and to prepare for life after college. He noted that this doesn’t mean students shouldn’t experiment. (Um, what?)

8:07: Dean Jordan opens up floor for Q&A. No one has questions….

8:08: Only one student was transported by PSafe last weekend to find a sober friend. Res Life staff was probably busier.

8:10: Turnout is bad.

8:12: According to Jordan, in the past, the citation process was arbritrary and unfair so the Administration has moved to a three-level citation system [that still respects VT State law]. Now, commons deans have discretion when considering citations and are allowed to take context into account.

8:14: Jordan recognizes that with the Health Center closing at 5:00 students have reason to be concerned that their safety net for drinking is gone but notes that the statistics for those who actually went to the Health Center at Night are quite low (149 for the 2008-2009 year). Now, if called, PSafe will determine if a student is in a medical crisis. If yes, they will go to the hospital. If no, they will go to a friend.

8:18: Of the people who went to the Health Center at night last year, at least 100 were brought by PSafe. Jordan notes that the goal is to find a medical, not disciplinary, solution.

8:19: Tim Spears notes that if a student is taken to Porter and the staff there determines a student is not sufficiently intoxicated, they will be released to a friend. There are legal repercussions only if the student is incredibly intoxicated.

8:23: One student asks if it is expected that student drinking will be driven underground in order to avoid “itemized detox” charges that will be sent to parents. Jordan explains that he expects that part of students looking out for each other will mean that they don’t let their friends drink “15 shots”. If friends feel the situation is out of control, that’s when PSafe should be called in. He notes that “we all have to look for ways to prevent [the drinking behind closed doors].” Tim Spears asks, “How much further can underground drinking get?”

8:27: Apparently there were only like 2 beds at the Health Center anway.

8:28: Wait, they’re changing the name of the “duty office”?

8:29: Extensive training of Res Life counselors that is, for the first time, continuing into the school year, is meant to help prevent drinking from going further underground.

8:30: Liebowitz asks what are the alternatives to the current policies and situation? Zero-tolerance? Slips up and calls Porter Hospital “Proctor”. Freudian?

8:32: Jordan will be on-call this first weekend back. He’ll be here at midnight.

8:34: One student wants to know what type of patrolling PSafe will be doing to find intoxicated students.

8:35: Lisa Boudah says that the patrols will be the same and they’ll always continue to work more closely with Res Life staff to appropriately patrol students.

8:36: Tim Spears recalls a conversation with one senior who, in 1990, claimed that he was glad to be graduating otherwise he feared that, if he stayed longer, he would become an alcoholic. He asks the audience how willing they are to help the students that everyone knows are drinking heavily instead of “talking about it like it’s [happening at] some other place.”

8:39: [Random side-tangent] So basically, it’s more environmentally friendly to close the Health Center and transport kids to the Hospital. Couldn’t we have just given them more CFLs to light the building?

8:41: A student brings the conversation back to students with health issues other than intoxication and how their willingness to seek appropriate and timely care with the Health Center closed. Lisa Boudah notes that the Health Center is still open for several hours a day with full services available to students and PSafe and CRAs are just a phone call away. Jordan notes that this is more like “real life” where the only 24 hr health options are Hospitals and Emergency rooms. Says he’s received about 4 or 5 emails (Liebowitz, 2 questions from parents of first years) about the new hours and more than often related to swine flu, not alcohol.

8:46: Liebowitz reminds students that Middlebury is the only school other than Bates that has a 24hr Health Center and has the closest Hospital to Campus.

8:48: Liebowitz: “In a perfect world, we’d have everything. We’d have juice at dinner.”

8:50: A ping pong ball, a quarter and music…that’s all it takes to signal to PSafe that there’s beer and trouble just behind the door. Does breaking up a beer party drive students to drink more hard alcohol and in more silent ways? One student recommends that one option the Administration should consider is making kegs easier to obtain. If there’s a keg next to you, why go find the vodka? He also recommends increasing the fees for being intoxicated with hard alcohol. This causes murmurs in the crowd…and underground the drinking goes.

8:51: Jordan: “context context context”. (But how far do we take the context? Do we just take into consideration the atmosphere of the party or the quality of the beer in the Solo cup?)

8:56: Lee Zerilla reminds everyone that it is really easy to get a keg. Just go to his office. Students remind him that a PSafe officer is still pretty much always there. Lisa Boudah remarks that, perhaps once we allow students to be more responsible for their friends, an officer wouldn’t have to be so present.

8:59: A creative solution! One student recommends that everyone drinks what they’re supposed to out of red Solo cups. If PSafe comes in and people are drinking out of Solo cups, they can then only look at the health of the student, not what’s in the cup. Hmmm, interesting concept…MiddBlog must think some more. Apparently this is how it is at Duke.

9:03: Given the absence of a Greek system on campus, suites feel more of an obligation to uphold a social life on campus. Given this, perhaps it makes sense that PSafe backs off just a little and pays more attention to the health of students than the contents of their red Solo cup. It took us an hour to get to the possibility that students drink because they’re over-worked.

9:05: Student from Florida (and I paraphrase): We come here because we want a more challenging education and we want more responsibility. So give it to us, but give us a little lee-way.

9:06: Jordan, Liebowitz and Spears asked to call upon their own college experiences. Remember how convenient it was to carry beer around than hide hard alcohol from the higher powers?

9:07: Liebowitz talks about discussion in the past to ban hard alcohol entirely (like Bowdoin did a few years ago) and admits they pulled back after it wasn’t even remotely well received by members of the Community Council.

9:11: How to make PSafe less of a threat—invite them to hall meetings, eat pizza with them, create camaraderie between officers and students.

9:13: One students suggests, don’t ban hard alcohol, just discourage it (through fear or financial incentive) while “promoting” beer.

9:17: Dean Jordan proposes creating a small group of students who would be willing to talk about the alcohol policies, with PSafe, as they evolve during the school. Ok, good idea, but why hasn’t this been done or why hasn’t it worked already? (If interested, email him now.)

9:19: Tim Spears and Dean Jordan remind students that a) the Open Container law is state-wide so, sorry, no six-packs at the concert this weekend and b) the liquor inspector could show up at any point and revoke the College’s liquor license and then it’s bye-bye registered parties and Pub Night.

9:27: Cconsensus, alcohol needs to be addressed from an educational, not punitive standpoint. There are counseling services available. There is no reason that the conversation can’t start now. So email Jordan.

Ok guys, good talk. Hopefully it’s one of many. Next time, how about a little more notice before the meeting and how about a little more interest on the part of students.?