University introduces new alcohol policy

Erin Gormley

This summer, as the new academic year approached, the University’s Dean of Students Office unveiled a new alcohol policy after substantial review in order to update the policy to further align with the University’s mission and values. The University still adheres to Pennsylvania state law, with the minimum drinking age being 21 and some parts of the policy remain the same, but some of the changes include expanding the Medical Assistance policy and new guidelines regarding both possession and consumption of alcohol in campus residences for students over the age of 21.

In terms of expanding the Medical Assistance policy, the previous University policy was that students who sought assistance for an alcohol or drug related emergency to help a friend did not face any repercussions, but the friend who needed the help did face repercussions or punishment. The revised policy, The Expectation of Responsibility for Alcohol and Drug Related Emergencies, outlined in an email over the summer to students. It stated that students who call for assistance for a friend will still typically avoid any disciplinary action if they, too, were in violation of the alcohol and drug policy

Furthermore, the friend in violation of the alcohol anddrug policy who requires medical assistance will now typically be exempt from disciplinary sanctions on their reportable record. This student will still participate in educational or other follow-up designed to promote personal safety and wellness, according to an email sent by the Dean of Students.

The revision from the policy stems from the University striving to keep its students safe while also eliminating any hesitation to call for help when it is needed. 

In addition, the new guidelines for on-campus residences for students over the age of 21 designate students the ability to keep limited amounts of alcohol in their residence hall or apartment. According to University policy, the restricted amount students were allowed to possess before the update was a combination of one case of beer, two bottles of wine, or one 750mLbottle of liquor. 

When expanding this section of the policy, the University found that many alcohol and drug related incidents stemmed from consumption of hard liquor, not from accountable consumption of beer or wine. The new alcohol policy for those over the age of 21 on campus removes the limits on beer and wine possession for students over the age of 21 in the on-campus residence halls and apartments.

Furthermore, it prohibits the possession and consumption of alcohol with 15% or greater alcohol by volume (e.g. hard liquor) by all students and guests, regardless of age, in the on-campus residence halls and apartments. 

The policy encourages bystanders to seek help without hesitation in order to prevent dangerous behavior and also makes consumption of alcoholic beverages for those over the age of 21 more accessible. The updated alcohol policy is intended to foster a safer, more informed community at the University.