Students Shape New Proposal to Change Alcohol Policy Violation Structure

Violations of the Pomona College Alcohol Policy may cease to result in fines for offenders if a proposal for a policy change is approved by the Student Affairs Committee (SAC). The proposal, based off Stanford University’s current alcohol policy, would replace monetary fines with mandatory community service hours for policy violators.

Vice President of Campus Activities Joseph Reynolds PO ’15 and South Campus Representative to the Associated Students of Pomona College (ASPC) Alex Samuels PO ’15 collaborated to design the current proposal and presented it to SAC for the first time April 20.

“The driving force behind this came out of a subcommittee of SAC which was trying to change the fines policy, because, as we know, fines are inequitable depending on what socioeconomic class you’re from, which is obviously not fair, therefore the punishment doesn’t apply equally to everyone,” Samuels said.

Under the current policy, violators are fined based on the “Three Rs” system, which subjectively evaluates each instance of policy violation in reference to the level of risk of the behavior, the degree of recklessness involved with the violation, and the rate of recurrence of policy violations. The proposed policy maintains the subjectivity of the current system, but also includes a clear, definitive rubric that defines the amount of service required for each violation based on the situational circumstances surrounding each R. According to Reynolds, the community service would mainly involve clean-up duties following parties funded by Pomona.

“It’s a clearer policy in general; there was a lack of clarity and transparency to the current policy, and this is what students usually say about it. There’s no remediation, there’s no educational aspect. There’s non-standardized enforcement by [Resident Advisers] and other bodies of power, so with this policy we hope to make a much clearer outline of the expectations and consequences,” Reynolds said.

According to Dean of Campus Life and Associate Dean of Students Ric Townes, Reynolds and Samuels have taken the administration’s advice seriously and attempted to elicit feedback from a number of campus groups in order to refine the policy.

“Both [Vice President and Dean of Students Miriam] Feldblum and I separately, without knowing it, suggested some of the same things. We told them to take [the proposal] to more groups, to take it to SAC, to take it to the alcohol working group, and they did all those things, and they incorporated a lot of the suggestions and feedback they received,” Townes said.

Feldblum specifically mentioned the educational aspects of the proposed policy as salient factors in her attraction to the proposal.

“For me, the proposal really talked about learning, both personally, but also about how your behavior affects the campus community. It gives you strategies and tips and ways in which you can think about your behavior and also protects the campus community because it brings in the person and asks what kind of risk was involved, what kind of repetition, is there a regard for the community,” Feldblum said.

Feldblum did have reservations regarding the proposal requests for greater resources, especially the proposal’s need for a community service coordinator to monitor violators and facilitate their work.

“In some ways the plan is asking for more staffing; well, no, we’re not going to get more staffing to implement this plan, but is that the only way to implement the plan? There could be ways we could do it without more staffing, but we will need to be creative,” Feldblum said.

While Reynolds and Samuels will both be studying abroad in the fall, they hope that other students will continue refining and seeking implementation of the policy in their stead.

“It’s scary for Alex and I because we did a lot of the creation of the new policy, and we’re both going abroad in the fall, so it’s kind of like, hopefully this will continue to get worked on. We have faith in the people that are here, but it’s an odd dynamic to put all this work in and then have to tear ourselves away from it before we see it through to fruition,” Reynolds said.

While the proposal still has significant refining to undergo before it is submitted to SAC for a vote, Townes said he was optimistic about prospects for the plan’s approval before the end of the 2013-2014 school year.

“I think it will get approved; I don’t think it will take a lot more time. It does need some more work,” Townes said.

If SAC does approve the plan, a 30-day comment period would be initiated before making an official change to the handbook. Any comments would be reviewed by SAC, and pertinent issues with the proposed policy would then be considered before any official alterations would be made to the policy.

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