CHRIS GRIVAS/THE HOYA Students of legal age will now be permitted to consume wine and beer outside in the grill area of Henle Village as part of a pilot program beginning today.
CHRIS GRIVAS/THE HOYA
Students of legal age will now be permitted to consume wine and beer outside in the grill area of Henle Village as part of a pilot program beginning today.

Students of legal age will now be permitted to consume wine and beer outside in specific areas of Village A and Henle Village as part of a pilot program beginning today.

The Outdoor Student Living Pilot Program, which originated from Georgetown Community Partnership discussions in June, was implemented after summer negotiations among the Georgetown University Student Association, Residential Living and the Department of Public Safety. The policy goes into effect immediately.

According to Director of Residential Education Ed Gilhooland DPS Chief of Police Jay Gruber, students will be able to drink from open containers in groups of fewer than 15 people in the barbecue areas of Village A and Henle. Student can drink outdoors at any time of the day as long as they abide by noise restrictions during quiet hours. There is no campus-wide open container policy, and the pilot program is limited to these two areas.

The success of the pilot program will be assessed by the end of the fall semester and again at the end of the year, at which point decisions will be made about extending the program to areas including the Alumni Square courtyard, the Southwest Quad lawn and the LXR courtyard. Assessment will be based on the number of incidents of noise complaints, underage alcohol consumptions and the frequency ofDPS intervention

“In this pilot, no news is good news,” Gruber said.

Gruber, who has supported the implementation of the pilot program, said that DPS would intervene only if students were not abiding by the designated rules. DPS officers will not ask for proof of age unless there is a disturbance.

“The intent is that if they are going by the spirit and letter of the policy, we’re not going to approach them, we’re going to sort of ignore them,” Gruber said. “But once they bring attention to themselves, we have to intervene and interact, then people who are underage could get sanctioned for possession of alcohol under the age of 21.”

Although beer and wine will be permitted outdoors, Gruber said that kegs are not within the limits of the pilot program.

“If we’re looking at 10 to 12 people, a keg is overkill,” he said. “It invites that party feel and party atmosphere, which is different from bringing a couple of six-packs or a case shared by a small group of people.”

The same reasoning was behind the decision not to permit liquor as part of the pilot program.

In April, the university lifted the one-keg limit for on-campus parties to promote on-campus socializing. Last August, the party registration system, which required students holding on-campus parties to inform the university in advance, was abolished. Students were already permitted to drink outside on Village A rooftops.

“We’ve had a series of policy changes regarding alcohol in the past few years,” Gilhool said. “Each time, we’ve seen the students take those changes seriously and be very mindful of the opportunities to have more socializing on campus and prove in time again that these types of initiatives and us looking at policies a little differently can be really successful on campus and enhance the student experience.”

GUSA President Nate Tisa (SFS ’14) said he was confident that the pilot would be successful.

“If you give students more control over their lives, it’s a privilege but also a responsibility. We think students are up to the challenge,” Tisa said.

GUSA Vice President Adam Ramadan (SFS ’14) emphasized that the goal of the pilot program is to make on-campus housing as appealing an option as off-campus housing.

“On campus, the sense of ownership stops as soon as you leave your door, whereas in an off-campus apartment, your backyard and driveway is your living space,” Ramadan said. “What students can do in their off-campus private space, we want to extend it on campus.”

Gruber said the program has the potential to benefit everyone involved, including the neighborhood community, students and DPS. “We’ll hopefully have less large parties that we’ll have to respond to. Upperclassmen who are of age will have an opportunity to use alcohol in a responsible way and won’t have to be in a situation where the drinking light is on or the drinking light is off.”

Although they cited the central goal as making socializing more appealing on campus, both Gruber and Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson said there was not a direct connection between the pilot program and the 2010 Campus Plan agreement, which mandated drawing social life to campus and away from residential neighborhoods.

“It’s not just about the campus plan. The fact that it juxtaposes with the campus plan, I think is a win-win,” Olson said. “I believe this is an element of that agreement that very much listens to and responds to student interests and student concerns.”

Tisa said that the campus plan was still a vital component when discussing the policy changes of the past year. This year, the Office of Residence Life will meet with InterHall to discuss the possibility of decreasing quiet hours.

“If you look in the campus agreement itself, one of the clauses we’ve really latched onto is you have to equalize policy on campus and off campus,” he said. “It should [be] equally, if not more, attractive to socialize on campus.”

This particular policy change comes in time for the long weekend.

“Happy Labor Day, I guess,” Tisa said.

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