Student-Only Alcohol Forum

A student-only alcohol forum was held Feb. 25 to collect student opinion before the upcoming review of Pomona College’s alcohol policy.Approximately 20 students attended the event, joining in discussion with students serving on the Alcohol Policy Review Committee, including Stephanie Almeida PO ’11, Greg Carter PO ’10, Jed Cullen PO ’10, Trevor Hunnicutt PO ’10, Tigist Kipper PO ’10, and Kelly Schwartz PO ’10.Discussion topics included drinking games, the difference between public and private space, RA-resident relationships, and fines and sanctions.Many students at the forum expressed opposition to the ban on drinking games in the Student Handbook. They proposed making a distinction between types of drinking games—for example, defining certain games as “competitions” and differentiating between those that use hard alcohol and those that use beer or wine. Many students were also unhappy with the way the distinction between public and private space is defined. Many said the handbook leaves the definition largely up to the RAs’ discretion.Ways to release the strain on relationships between RAs and their residents were also discussed. Students said RAs sometimes are seen as a negative force in dorm life, making residents afraid of seeking them out. They discussed the possibility of a more relaxed alcohol policy, suggesting Pomona model new regulations on open-door policies at Stanford, Yale and Washington University.However, the alcohol policy must comply first and foremost with California state law if Pomona wishes to continue to receive funding from the state.Some students said they were dissatisfied with the current system of fines and sanctions. However, few had ideas for systems with which to replace it. Many students said the policy should state that if a student is unable to pay the fine because of his or her financial situation, the fine can be waived.“I wish more students had attended, but I think the discussion was still worthwhile,” one attendee said. “It seems like what most students want is a policy that emphasizes safety rather than giving out fines for every minor infraction and more uniformity among RA enforcement, but I understand that this is difficult to put into words while still complying with California law.”Another student found the discussion ineffective.“In truth, I was a little frustrated by the fact that I felt like even though we were talking to a student panel, it still felt like we were talking to a board of faculty,” they said. “Although it was nice to voice our opinion, it didn’t really feel like it was getting across as much as I had hoped.”The student committee will take the comments made at the forum to the next meeting of the Board of Trustees and will consider them when reviewing the alcohol policy.The next step in the review process is a closed-door CMC-Pomona alcohol policy forum on March 5, at which the schools will attempt to better align their policies. CMC is also reviewing its alcohol policy this year, Carter said, and the two schools’ review committees will meet to discuss the benefits and detriments of each of the current policies.

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