CMC Introduces New Alcohol Policy Regulations

Claremont Mckenna College (CMC) emailed its student body a document on Aug. 30 outlining the new High-risk Alcohol and Drug Use Prevention Program developed by CMC's Personal and Social Responsibility Steering Committee (PSR) over the summer.

The program includes several new regulations, one being that any event with over 15 attendees must be registered, regardless of whether the event hosts intend to serve alcohol.

Another new regulation states that individual students may host events that include alcohol only if the event does not exceed 30 attendees. Only clubs and organizations can host events over 30 attendees that serve alcohol. 

According to the 34-page document, the program is part of a larger “strategic framework” known as the Personal and Social Responsibility (PSR) Initiative, which began its work during the 2013-2014 school year, according to Associated Students of Claremont Mckenna College (ASCMC) Event Commissioner Cole Mora CM ‘17.

The document states that the PSR Initiative “focuses on 1) enriching the CMC student experience 2) optimizing the High-risk Alcohol and Drug Use Prevention Program itself (including policies, guidelines, education, training, counseling, and calibrated institutional response); and 3) community-wide, engaged communications through the personal and social responsibility initiative.”

The initiative has received criticism from some CMC students who felt their input had not been taken into consideration.

In 2013 and 2014, CMC President Hiram Chodosh and the Dean of Students Office hosted events like a December 2013 round table on CMC’s social climate and the January 2014 Mirza Summit. According to Mora, the administration relied heavily on information and ideas gathered at these events when drafting the PSR Initiative.

“I think it was mostly the school saying, ‘Okay, we’ve got all this input, we’ve had all these discussions with students, what should we do now?’” Mora said.

Mora recognizes that students were less involved in the writing phase of the initiative, which happened during the 2014-2015 school year.

“I think there is always room for improvement, and I think there’s always room for the Initiative to have more student involvement,” Mora said.

According to Jefferson Huang, CMC vice president for student affairs, the administration intends on working closely with students throughout the implementation of these policies.

“For the students who want more conversation about this, we want to know how we can best get student engagement in the conversation,” Huang wrote in an email to TSL.

Huang added that discussions on alcohol use, drug use and the CMC social climate would not discontinue once the policy was implemented.

“We want to build this into a system of an ongoing conversation about alcohol and drugs,” he said. “It¹s not like we can hit a 'reset button' and then never have to continue to evaluate our campus culture again; this needs to be a regular part of our conversation about student life.”

Last week, CMC hosted three formal conversations about the policy changes and the social climate. On Sept. 7, Students were invited to an ASCMC Senate meeting. A group of students was invited to President Chodosh's house Sept. 8. Lastly, an open forum was also hosted Sept. 9 as a venue for students to voice their opinions on the policy.

Both Huang and Mora agreed that these events were successful, but that the turnout was lower than they'd hoped. Mora expressed concerns about student impressions of the initiative.

“I don’t want PSR to be seen as a restrictive, rule-making body,” Mora said. “That’s not why it was made. It was made to try and realize a vision for what the social scene at CMC could be.”

CMC's Resident Assistants (RAs) also played an integral role in the development of the new alcohol and drug-use policies and will continue to play a role in enforcing them. According to RA Rae Brookshire CM ‘16, RAs had been informed that there would be changes made to CMC’s policy on alcohol and drug use.

She added that RAs had had the opportunity to read and revise the policy a few weeks before the start of the school year and that most of the changes they had requested were approved.

“The administration has made it very clear that… they’re giving us a huge amount of latitude to exercise personal and social responsibility. And from that perspective, I think the RAs are all on the same page – we want to enforce the guidelines and provide honest feedback about what goes right and what goes wrong,” Brookshire said.

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