Scripps College’s stringent alcohol policy is praised by some as a means of preserving the school’s aesthetic and preventing the quiet campus from becoming a “party school.” But a new Alcohol Policy Task Force intends to review the parts of the policy that are potentially harmful to students—specifically, the lack of a Good Samaritan clause, Dean of Students Rebecca Lee said.
Both Pomona and CMC have adopted Good Samaritan policies, which exempt students seeking medical attention for themselves or for others from disciplinary action. These policies are created so that underage drinkers in particular will not hesitate to seek medical help when necessary.
Other controversial aspects of the Scripps policy include strict limits on the size of private parties where alcohol is served, bans on drinking games, and a “closed door” rule that limits alcohol consumption to private rooms while public spaces remain substance-free.
Lee has been one of the key administrators behind the push to reform the policy.
“The concern that students, out of fear of getting into trouble, are hesitant to seek medical assistance was brought to my attention relatively soon during my first year,” Lee said.
Last semester, the combined efforts of Scripps administrators such as Lee and concerned students put into motion the Alcohol Policy Task Force. A mix of administrators and students, the task force is charged with addressing how the current policy can be adapted to accommodate the realities of student alcohol consumption.
Before the first meeting of the task force, Scripps Associated Students organized a forum to gather preliminary student input.
“We structured the meeting by talking about problems we saw [with the Alcohol Policy] and ways that we could fix the problems,” said 5C Events Coordinator Marta Bean SC ’14, who now sits on the task force. “One of the main things for people was how the alcohol policy affects campus community. The fact that there’s a closed-door alcohol policy makes it so that doors are always closed.”
Bean said the amount and variety of people present at the forum demonstrated the importance of the issue to Scripps students.
“There were a lot of senior students who came just to show that this was very important to them, even though they won’t be here when it’s implemented,” she said. “I thought that was very powerful. There were also students who didn’t drink, but still wanted to bring their input.”
The policy will likely be implemented this semester.
“We’re very close,” Lee said. “Part of what the committee will be discussing next week is how to best roll [the policy] out once it’s drafted.”
In addition to policy reform, there will be an ongoing effort to educate students in safe drinking practices.
“The Health Education Office is an integral part of our task force,” Lee said.
In addition to taking the National College Health Assessment offered every two years, Scripps first-year students participate in an online alcohol education program with a follow-up survey.
While the changes to the policy are intended to promote the students’ safety, Lee said that, ideally, a Good Samaritan policy would never be used.
“Our hope is not to have students end up at that point where they need medical assistance,” she said.
Bean said that the new policy “may change the campus community, but not for the worse. I don’t think we’re going to turn into a party school ever.”