Sam Guzzardi, staff writer
The board of trustees’ Student Life Committee has been given a year to review proposed revisions to Warren Wilson’s current alcohol policy. During this period, the Board of Student Life will be conducting a study on the college’s current alcohol policies and the practicality, risks and potential successes of shifting to the proposed policy.
The revised alcohol policy, which was generated by the on-campus Student Life Committee, gained approval at both Caucus and Staff Forum and could have gone into effect. Warren Wilson President Sandy Pfeiffer, however, felt that the proposed changes were substantial enough that the board of trustees needed to be consulted before a final decision was made.
On March 5, Pfeiffer met with the executive committee of the board and an agreement was reached that the Board of Student Life would conduct a study on the present policy and the possible consequences of implementing the new one. The board of executives decided that Student Life would be given a year to complete this task.
“The next step will be the April 22 meeting,” said Dean of Students Cathy Kramer in regard to an upcoming meeting between herself, the five-member Board of Student Life, the Co-Conveners and student trustee. This will be the first meeting between the Board of Student Life and the Warren Wilson Committee of Student Life. It is intended to help the board better understand the situation on campus at present so as to make an educated decision on where to begin their report.
Should the revisions ultimately be approved, it will be a profound deviation from the school’s current alcohol policies, primarily seeking to amend current policy surrounding where students are allowed to consume alcohol.
Right now the rule is that of-age students may consume alcohol in their own rooms or at registered events in which a contract has been obtained that approves the presence of alcoholic beverages. If of-age students choose to drink in their own rooms, they are limited to the company of four or fewer persons, because five or more persons in a single dorm room constitutes a party, requiring a party contract.
“[The current policy] takes an enjoyable activity and makes it into a thing to be shunned. It’s ludicrous that I can’t come ‘home’ after a long week of hard work and relax with a beer while I cook dinner,” senior Ian Kirkland remarked.
According to Kramer, many other legal-age students share Kirkland’s sentiments. The most frequent complaint seems to be that Warren Wilson is a student’s home for a number of years and yet there is this need to hide a legal thing one enjoys, and perhaps does very responsibly, because some people abuse it.
The new policy would allow for 21-year-old students to drink in more public and social settings with the hope that, by giving the community more freedom and respect, students would be willing to accept their responsibilities and hold each other accountable.
Wellness student and member of the Student Life Committee Chandler Jones said that “the idea is to foster a safer, healthier drinking culture. The current policy is unrealistic. This is not a dry campus. If people want to drink, they can, and will. But by making public spaces available, we hope to encourage a more social-drinking culture as opposed to one where of-age students who choose to drink must do so alone, or with little company, in their rooms.”
Kramer asserts that if the new policy is eventually actualized, “students will need to honor the spirit of why [it] was changed,” This means having a mature, adult, social drinking community hinged on decency and respect.
“We need to hold up our end of the bargain…I’m interested to see how it turns out [and am] going to do my best to make it work,” said junior Max Hunt.
Many students have complained about the delay in reaching a decision, noting that if the revisions are passed, it will have been nearly three years since its initiation. However, the estimation of a year is not rigid. Chair of the Board of Student Life, Dr. Anne Graham Masters, stated that this one year is the maximum length of time, and that the study may be complete before then.
It is important to remember that the process of changing an intentional community is tedious for everyone involved — but if the change is truly in the community’s best interest, then it will happen and will be worth the wait.