Before this year, there were two spaces on Pomona’s campus in which students above the age of 21 could consume alcohol: in the privacy of their own rooms, and at officially registered parties at which alcohol is served.
This year, however, with the addition of the new North Campus dorms and a revision to the school’s Alcohol Policy that was passed by the Student Affairs Committee (SAC) in the spring, this number should have doubled to four. Students over 21 can now consume alcohol at social gatherings in the common rooms of the new dorm suites, and, according to the language of the new policy, in the common areas of the suites in Lawry.
But as an article in this week’s paper reveals, Pomona’s Office of Campus Life (OCL) is not enforcing the policy as last year’s SAC intended (see Page 1). Residence Advisors (RAs) on North Campus are instructed to conduct full walk-throughs of the Lawry common rooms, which, according to Dean of Campus Life Ric Townes, are still considered public space, where alcohol consumption—even by students over the age of 21—is not permitted.
This Editorial Board disagrees with OCL’s enforcement of the alcohol policy in the Lawry commons rooms for three reasons.
First, there is no definition of public or private space in the Student Handbook. By enforcing policy in the Lawry common rooms as if they were “public space,” OCL is assuming that those spaces are visible to and regularly used by students beyond those who live in the suite. This is false; the Lawry common rooms are used primarily by the students who live in those suites, and they not easily visible from outside the dorms.
Furthermore, OCL’s enforcement of the alcohol policy in the Lawry common rooms ignores the language of the policy change that was passed by SAC in the spring. Dean Townes has said that the Lawry common areas differ from those in the new dorm—where alcohol consumption by of-age students is permitted—because the Lawry common rooms can be accessed by anyone at Pomona. While this is true, student-restricted access is mentioned nowhere in Pomona’s Alcohol Policy.
Finally, recognizing all areas outside of the new dorm common rooms as “public space” ignores a recurring problem with the Pomona social life: a lack of spaces for medium- to large-sized groups of students to socialize while consuming alcohol. For students who consume alcohol on Pomona’s campus, the only way to do so socially outside of the occasional Boot is by cramming students inside an overly-packed dorm room or wandering to massive 5C parties where little “conversation” can take place.
Reforming the alcohol policy on South Campus remains a challenge, as most first- and second-years are below the age of 21. This Editorial Board would endorse a proposal to permit monitored alcohol consumption for underclassmen in spaces like the Blaisdell and Harwood courtyards, as it could dissuade students from drinking large amounts of alcohol in short periods of time in the privacy of their dorms rooms, which may be contributing to the record number of alcohol transports this year.
But last year’s SAC took a step in the right direction, and the new policy should at the very least permit of-age students in Lawry the right to drink alcohol in their common rooms. OCL should respect student input into the Alcohol Policy and it should enforce policy as it is outlined in the Student Handbook.