Summer Session bans hard alcohol on campus

July 5, 2012, 3:04 a.m.

Students who moved into the dorms for the summer were welcomed back with an email informing them that a new alcohol policy would be enforced during the duration of this year’s Stanford Summer Session.

The email, sent by Assistant Dean of Stanford Summer Session Jess Matthews, warned students that the storage or consumption of hard liquor would not be tolerated in dorms during the summer. The new policy defines hard liquor as “any alcoholic beverage with an alcohol content 20 percent or greater (40 proof or above). Examples include vodka, rum and whiskey.” The policy applies to all summer residents, regardless of age.

Those over the legal drinking age of 21 are allowed to be in possession of beer and wine but are subject to the same consequences as their underage dormmates if they are found with hard alcohol. This differs from the alcohol policy enforced during the regular academic year, which does not place restrictions on students who are 21 and older.

“This change is a product of several factors,” Matthews said. “Summer Session is a short, intensive academic experience, which means that we implement unique policies in order to foster an academic environment and support students so that they can be successful.”

Students who are found to be in possession of hard alcohol will be asked to pour it out immediately and will be subject to a conversation with residential staff regarding ways in which they can avoid further policy violations. Additional repercussions will be determined on a case-by-case basis.

While summer resident assistants are expected to enforce the policy, they are not being told to search specifically for hard liquor, Matthews said.

The new policy, which was developed in conjunction with the Office of Alcohol Policy and Education (OAPE), stems from the concern that most of the negative consequences associated with alcohol during the school year are recorded as having been the direct result of hard liquor consumption. The email that was sent to students cites hard alcohol as the primary contributor to 100 percent of emergency room transports and 80 percent of behavioral issues and police citations during the academic year.

According to data compiled by the Stanford University Department of Public Safety (SUDPS), the Stanford campus saw a 45 percent increase in medical alcohol transports this school year over last year, resulting in a total of 77 alcohol transports between September 2011 and April 2012. Data on the number of Summer Session transports has not been tracked by the OAPE.

The shortened length of the summer session in comparison to the rest of the academic school year is also being cited as a reason for the change in policy.

“We don’t have the same amount of time in which to do community norming,” Matthews said, “so our policy changes can be perceived as more top-down than those that occur during the other three quarters.”

Despite the OAPE’s advisory role in constructing this new policy, there are no plans to implement the change during the regular school year.

“This is only a Summer Session policy,” confirmed Associate Dean of Student Affairs Ralph Castro in an email to The Daily.

Dean Castro is, however, interested in seeing how the policy plays out over the course of the summer. He plans on discussing its outcome with the Summer Session staff and would like to hear from students regarding their thoughts on the policy and its effectiveness.

Students with further questions or concerns can speak with their RAs, house directors or Jess Matthews for more information.

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