Student employees in the Office of Residence Life are objecting to new alcohol enforcement regulations announced last month that university officials say could make it easier to suspend repeat violators of the alcohol policy.

In an e-mail sent to students last month announcing stricter alcohol regulations, Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson said that repeated infractions will likely lead to suspension. The new policies, which take effect in August, limit kegs for on-campus parties to one per event and allow university officials to notify parents after a student’s second violation.

“These changes mean that students should expect that a pattern of repeated policy violations involving alcohol is likely to lead to suspension, and that parents of students under 21 and of other dependent students will be notified on a second policy violation,” he said in the Jan. 10 letter.

Many students on the Residential Judicial Council have interpreted this statement to mean that students will receive a semester’s suspension after a third violation.* Olson said in a statement yesterday that while he does not expect it to become official policy to suspend students after a third violation, the Office of Student Affairs is likely to begin exercising the option to do so with greater frequency.

“I believe these new approaches will set clear expectations for students, and will help to foster a healthy and respectful campus environment,” Olson said.

RJC member Gage Raley (COL ’08) said that he and other council members believe the policy is too strict. He added that the RJC should have discretion in choosing a student’s punishment.

“I think all of us on the council think that it’s not right because it’s so strict and has such far-reaching consequences,” Raley said.

Students who are on the verge of suspension will receive a warning when their parents receive a notification after their second alcohol violation, Olson said in his statement.

Raley said that the council had already begun writing letters to parents after a student’s second offense.

“Since the rule is going to be implemented starting next semester, right now we’re sending letters to parents to warn them after their student’s second offense,” he said. “We don’t want the student to have a third offense next semester and be suspended.”

Raley said that, following the current policy, the punishment for alcohol-policy violators is left to the discretion of the RJC, which usual handles all Category A student conduct violations. Raley says that at this point, he has not heard any cases in which suspension was necessary, though he hears about 20 cases related to alcohol policy violations each week.

“I was pretty shocked when we heard about the new sanctions,” he said.

Matt Smallcomb (COL ’09), an RJC chair, said he believes even Category A alcohol offenses – the least serious type of student misconduct at Georgetown – will be counted as violations.

Smallcomb said that he will not alter the way that he decides alcohol cases based on his understanding of the new suspension policy.

“We are still going to hear each case objectively,” he said.

The new alcohol policy underwent an extensive process of student input, Olson said in the campus-wide e-mail. Raley, however, said that the new suspension policy passed unnoticed by students who spent most of their time petitioning against a ban on on-campus kegs.

“It was kind of disappointing when there was so much focus on the keg ban when basically the school was able to slide the suspension rule under everyone’s noses,” he said. “I think the three-violations rules have a lot more consequences than the keg ban ever did.”

The Student Code of Conduct says that a student can appeal his or her hearing if that student believes that the sanction is too harsh for the level or nature of the offense and the student’s prior record. After examining the student’s case, the committee may reduce or overturn the sanction.

Several students said that they feel that the new suspension regulations are too harsh.

“Suspending people when caught drinking is a bit too much,” Steven Yit (SFS ’09) said. “If they’re caught while drinking and fighting, it’s different.”

Yit added that the policy may not be effective, since it was not well disseminated.

“Many people don’t know about the new policy,” Yit said. “It doesn’t serve to have more strict measures if people don’t really know.”

Dylan Shaw (SFS ’08) also said that he does not agree with the new enforcement guidelines.

“With all due respect, we’re smart enough to get into Georgetown, so we can probably handle ourselves,” he said.

*Correction: The printed article “Some Object to New Alcohol Enforcement” (THE HOYA, Feb. 16, 2007, A1) incorrectly stated that many members of the Residential Judicial Council believe students who receive a third alcohol violation will be suspended for one month. They believe that students will be suspended for one semester. (Return to the corrected sentence)

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