Student Government holds open meeting to discuss alcohol policy
Farinon Atrium became a discussion forum on Lafayette’s alcohol policies on Monday, when student government opened their general meeting to the campus community.
According to Lafayette College Student Government President Aaron Little ‘16, the purpose of the meeting was to increase visibility and accessibility of the policy for students.
“We wanted to give students an avenue to voice their complaints or things they like about the policy and have a worthwhile discussion on it, while also having an administrator who can hear that and follow up with it,” Little said. “We just wanted to do it in a more accessible location.”
Students from each graduating class attended the meeting, and there was participation from almost every student attendee. Student government representatives began the discussion with questions on students’ perceptions of alcohol on campus and students raised concerns about the existing policy at the school.
One of the concerns raised by students was a lack of entertaining social outlets on campus, especially for freshman boys. The students believed the lack of organized social activity pushes drinking off-campus, and fosters underground drinking. Some upperclassmen at the meeting brought up the cancellation of Club Farinon, a dance party for freshmen, which, in past years, occurred on the last day of orientation.
Dean of Students Paul McLoughlin said Club Farinon was discontinued for reasons relating to hospitalizations that resulted from the event. McLoughlin has been working closely with student government on the alcohol policy and attended the meeting.
The administration has been working with students to organize events where the college can be aware of drinking for students of-age, but ensure that students are abiding by the college’s rules, McLoughlin said at the meeting.
“I think we recognize that it’s critical we have a safe environment for students,” Byerly said in an interview. “A safe environment also involves creating rules and regulations that don’t prevent students from having alcohol if they’re of age.”
This includes hosting events like Senior Sips, where Lafayette seniors that are 21 years or older can drink openly on campus.
“We want to work with adults,” McLoughlin said.
“We are [also] trying to find a place to have people over 21 and under 21 in the same environment,” McLaughlin said. Gilbert’s was suggested as one possible venue for this kind of place.
Students at the meeting said that information regarding the school’s current alcohol policy is not presented in a way that will resonate with students. Several students said that they are not familiar with the policy at all.
“I’m a senior, and I’ll admit, if I weren’t on a sports team, I wouldn’t know what the policy was,” said Stephanie Benko ‘16, who attended the meeting. “Athletes are explicitly told.”
Members of student government and the administration say they are aware of this disconnect.
“My impression from what I’ve heard is that it could be a little bit simpler and easier to abide by,” said Byerly. “Insuring that students understand the rules and can follow them is an important step towards empowering students to be active and productive in social organizations.”
Little agreed. “The conversation kept jumping back to how the policy is communicated, so I think that is something we’re definitely going to need to work to improve.”
One of Student Government’s steps towards improvement will be drafting a clear and concise campus-wide email to bullet-point the alcohol policy, according to Little.
“We could also explore different advertising options for that,” Little said.