Students could see changes to alcohol policy

The Butler Alcohol Taskforce presented a report of recommendations to administration about potential changes to Butler University’s alcohol policy in January.

Dean of Student Life Irene Stevens said the administration didn’t act on the recommendations until recently.

Stevens will present the list of recommendations to the Board of Trustees in May, and various sub-groups and committees will work on the recommendations over the summer.

She said the need for the recommendations stemmed from alcohol violation and hospitalization data from the last three academic years.

“We’re seeing more and more students who are showing signs of high-risk drinking,” Stevens said. “There’s been a significant increase in hospitalizations.”

The recommendations are listed in four different categories—education, student culture, policies and enforcement.

“We felt like there were some mixed messages on whether or not it’s OK to drink,” Stevens said. “We’ve been talking about if you choose to drink, drink responsibly.”

Some recommendations regarding education include alcohol policy messages to new students, required alcohol programming in residential housing and Greek housing and education on how to identify signs of alcohol poisoning and high-risk drinking.

Stevens said that in terms of student culture, some recommendations include promoting more weekend programming, educating off-campus students about the liability involved with hosting parties and having alcohol education for students and alumni during homecoming week.

“There is also a suggestion to restrict first-year students’ access to the fraternity and sorority houses for a period of time in the fall semester,” Stevens said. “The goal is to inform students of this in advance.”

A recommendation involving policies includes establishing criteria where policy violators wouldn’t be eligible for Greek recruitment, apartment living and leadership positions on campus.

Stevens said the taskforce explored the possibility of restricting hard alcohol on campus, but there was no consensus on the recommendation. It was not presented to administration.

Some recommendations involving enforcement include a more consistent and firm response from campus police on underage and high-risk drinking and increased education and fines for students who violate campus alcohol policy.

Stevens said that some of the recommendations will be implemented in the fall, but many of them will not be implemented until next year.

Sarah Barnes Diaz, health education and outreach programs coordinator, said that after the various parties look at the recommendations, the taskforce will look at the funding and staffing available to put the recommendations in place.

“We also need to be mindful of the natural cycle here and make sure we’re not pushing recommendations that we don’t really have time to fully organize,” Diaz said.

Diaz said the recommendations should be clearly communicated to students.

“I don’t anticipate a huge uproar or any major shock to the recommendations there,” she said. “It’s seeing what’s worked on our campus, what’s worked on other campuses that are like ours and just continuing those things.”