Undergraduate Senate unanimously recommends alcohol policy reform

Oct. 26, 2021, 11:28 p.m.

Senators unanimously passed a resolution at Tuesday’s Senate meeting that would recommend amending the University’s alcohol policy, reverting it back to the previous unofficial “open-door” policy and no longer mandating residential assistants (RAs) to report instances of underage drinking. 

The vote on the alcohol policy resolution, which was introduced on Oct. 12, was held off by the Senate during the last meeting in order to revise the originally broad request contained in the bill. 

The amendment calls for undergraduates to take a course on the policy created this year before the start of the winter quarter to ensure students understand the contents. The course will emphasize that students reporting Title IX violations are immune from any disciplinary action. The University made this revision to the original policy following protests from sexual assault advocates on campus. The University’s revision now states that victims and witnesses of sexual assault will not face disciplinary action if underage drinking is involved. 

Senators are also calling for the University to incorporate education about the policy into New Student Orientation and emphasize the educational provisions of the policy. Additionally, Senators included in the resolution that the University should clarify the Good Samaritan clause, which states that students and student groups “seeking medical treatment for themselves or another person will not be subject to disciplinary action with respect to the use of drugs or alcohol in violation of [the alcohol policy].” Senators also sought to ensure that the policy includes immunity for both the student who requires treatment and the one who seeks it. 

Senator Amira Dehmani ’24, who worked on the bill, said the current policy creates a dangerous policing system among students that Stanford has never seen before. 

“RAs should have a relationship with their residents that’s focused on care and well-being rather than surveying them and reporting them,” Dehmani said. 

Senators also passed a bill, with one abstention, to adopt a Volunteer Student Organization (VSO) and Senate Liaison program that would facilitate conversations between campus advocacy groups and the Undergraduate Senate. Advocating for marginalized communities and working closely with advocacy groups was a big campaign promise for many senators. 

Senator Emily Nichols ’23, who wrote the bill, said it was important for the Senate to approve a more formal program to ensure the longevity of student engagement in Senate proceedings.

Under this new pilot program, Senate liaisons partner with VSOs and attend their meetings at the organization’s discretion to remain updated on important issues. These liaisons are also expected to develop advocacy strategies, write resolutions and coordinate meetings. 

During the meeting, Christian Sanchez ’24, the Special Project Executive Fellow for transfer students, also spoke to the Senate about creating a roadmap to increase awareness of issues relating to transfer students. 

“Our cohort has identified a few issues within the transfer experience where we feel that Stanford as an institution can be a little bit more accommodating and welcoming,” Sanchez said.

Senators enthusiastically discussed the possibility of adding a transfer student on the Senate as an ex-officio member. This member would have the same powers as a normal Senator, except for the right to vote, and could represent the unique vantage point that transfer students hold. 

Itzel Luna '25 is a News Managing Editor and Fellowships Coordinator. Luna is originally from the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles and plans to major in Sociology on the data science, markets and management track with a minor in Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity. Contact her at iluna 'at' stanford.edu

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