“I don’t like walking back from M Street at night, but that’s where everyone goes to socialize.”

“DPS seems too wrapped up in busting my parties, rather than protecting me.”

“I tried to read the alcohol policy in the Student Handbook to figure out what was allowed, but I couldn’t understand past the first section.”

“I’m in college, I’m 21 and I’m responsible. Give me some ownership of my campus and stop stigmatizing everything pertaining to alcohol.”

It was thoughts such as these that brought together a collaborative group of students, faculty, staff and senior administrators to form the FRIENDS Initiative’s Alcohol Policy Team. The group set out to analyze the nature of alcohol use at Georgetown and the university’s policies on the matter. We were particularly interested in evaluating the extent to which the policy allows Georgetown to realize its educational mission of promoting community, education, respect and responsibility.

As we met weekly and listened to the views of students, we came across three major themes:

First, many students perceived difficulties socializing on campus. An overbearing policy coupled with intense regulation and disciplinary action seemed to discourage students from gathering inside Healy Gates. The alternatives were the less safe options of going to bars or parties off campus.

Secondly, many students found the alcohol policy difficult to understand. The existing policy remains unclear and repetitive to many readers, especially new students who may find themselves in trouble during their opening days, weeks and months here..

Finally, the current policy seems to promote a disrespectful environment. As college students, we strive for independence and want to be treated as responsible adults. Instead, our alcohol policy requires the watchful eye of the Department of Public Safety and Student Conduct to monitor such trivial offenses as keeping a decorative wine bottle in our rooms or standing next to an underage drinker.

The challenge then was to find appropriate answers to these student issues. We embarked upon a methodical two-year process: seeking perspectives of diverse members of our community, researching policies at other similar universities around the country, conducting research into drinking patterns on campus and looking at relevant federal and local laws regarding the use of alcohol. We also found that most Georgetown students socialize responsibly and respectfully. According to the 2000 Survey on Student Perceptions of Alcohol done on campus, 98 percent of students report that they “keep an eye out on a friend to make sure s/he stays safe” and “walk home with a friend who is drunk to make sure s/he gets home safely.”

We believe that it is possible to promote safety and build a community by revising our alcohol policies to make it easier to socialize on campus, with and without alcohol. To that end, our policy includes:

 Abolishment of the current system of party and keg registration

 Creation of a Party Engagement Group (PEG) to advise students of preventive measures to help them avoid personal harm, a degradation of community and disciplinary action at parties

 Removal of the designation of “alcohol free residential housing,” or “dry dorms,” in an effort to clarify regulations and streamline Georgetown’s policy with pertinent District laws

 An increase in the number of areas for student socialization on campus by paving the way for regulated alcohol usage in semi-public areas

 Revision of the violations and sanctions section of university policy to ensure compliance with relevant laws and with Georgetown’s mission.

We are not so naive to think that our proposal will solve all problems or be adopted in its entirety. But nor are we pessimists who believe students can’t handle the responsibility of their choices.

From the beginning, our role has been not to dictate rules for the campus community, but rather to make reasoned proposals for public consumption. Certainly, it has been our hope that in proposing these revisions, we would achieve results; yet equally important along the way was the ability to spark a campus-wide debate over the crucial topic of student alcohol use. This year, students have already shown the university they can control themselves in social situations on campus where alcohol is involved. HoyaPalooza was a prime example of an outstanding community event in which students acted responsibly, did not drink to excess and greatly enjoyed themselves inside Healy Gates. We’re confident that Homecoming will be, too.

Not everyone will agree with what we submitted, but students will have the opportunity to inform themselves on this issue and to think about their experiences here at Georgetown and the risks that are associated with it. Over the past few weeks, The Hoya and the Voice have written contrasting editorials (“FRIENDS To Create “Beer-ocracy,” The Hoya, Sept. 5, 2003, p. 2), (“A Responsible Alchohol Policy,” The Georgetown Voice, Aug. 28, 2003) on our proposal. We welcome this – engaging in public debate over this issue is one step toward our goal.

In that spirit, we have placed our policy proposal on the FRIENDS Web site, http://friends.georgetown.edu, and hope students will take the time to see what our policy is about, to inform themselves about the existing policy and to develop opinions about alcohol use here at Georgetown. Over the coming months, we look forward to students having the opportunity to express their opinions both formally and informally across this campus.

Katie Boogaard is a senior in the College. Mike Glick is a junior in the College. Both currently serve as co-chairs of the FRIENDS Initiative Alcohol Policy Team.

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