No longer will students need to venture to Downtown Stroudsburg for a glass of merlot at the Renegade Winery. Campus residents can now enjoy a glass of wine, beer or any alcoholic drink they please in the comfort of their dorm or apartment.
ESU Residential and Dining services updated their regulations for residential students 21 years of age or older and allows them to consume alcoholic beverages.
Curtis Dugar, Director of Residential and Dining Services explained the decision was an evolutionary process that students, residence staff and ESU officials had talked about for three years. The new policy took effect on Aug. 23., three days before Fall classes began.
“We are truly moving forward with how we’ve listened to our students,” Dugar said. “We have really embraced our opportunity to be progressive and made a modification to a set of living standards that we know our students follow.”
The new policy is a privilege that Dugar explained comes with a level of honesty and responsibility.
The guidelines have stipulations that students must follow, such as consuming only in their campus residences, not engaging in drinking games and not consuming in the presence of those under 21 years old.
“We want to enhance transparency and the educational process with our students with regards to the fact that if you’re not 21 years of age, we’re going to remind you that you cannot drink alcohol,” Dugar said, as he explicated how resident staff will educate students about the new guidelines.
He also said the department will empower and educate those of legal drinking age about the responsibility of safe, social consumption, as well as the repercussions of sharing alcohol with underage peers.
The new guidelines are, of course, conditions of a privilege given to students, but what happens if a student fails to follow the new policy?
That’s when Maria Cutsinger, the director of student conduct and community standards, gets involved.
“When students aren’t abiding by the guidelines, those students go through the conduct process. There is a myriad of different sanctions that can happen to students,” Cutsinger said. “Some sanctions are low-level official warnings to disciplinary probations, to losing your right to be in housing or to being removed from the institution.”
These sanctions not only apply to alcohol but to any offense that a student might perpetrate, such as assault, vandalism or theft. These are crimes that officials can report to the police.
Though if students who are intoxicated go to university officials for help or medical assistance, they are protected by ESU Medical Amnesty which states that students who need medical attention due to alcohol/drugs will not be charged with a violation(s) of student conduct as long as that student completes required treatment.
Amy Freeman, the director of health and wellness, says allowing those 21 or older to drink on campus, who statistically make up 25 percent of the student body, helps them learn how to be socially responsible and safe when drinking. The policy allows students to participate in the activity with school resources readily available and easily accessible.
Medical Amnesty protects students from code of conduct charges when they seek medical assistance while intoxicated. Though the Student Handbook says the university cannot protect students from possible local, state or federal criminal charges.
One student believes the university made the right decision because many students would ignore the previous policy and sneak alcohol into dorms rooms.
“I think the policy is good,” said Senior Felix Mai. “Where I come from, it’s normal to drink anywhere, even outside.”
Mai is an international student from Germany, where citizens can purchase beer and wine at 16 years old.
“It’s good because students are adults; they’re moving into their own adult life. It’s good to give them the responsibility to drink responsibly,” Mai said.
Some students may not want to be around when their roommates drink. Soon, there might be a sober zone, a place for alcohol-free students to socialize with others.
According to Freeman, there’s a space located near the new Health and Wellness Center on the ground floor of Sycamore Suites that could be used as a sober living space.
She also explained that the university considers bringing back Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings to campus which the school had historically done in the past and is not a decision influenced by the new policy.
“Our relationships with students are our priority,” Dugar said. “We want to show that we are listening to our students and the new guidelines are a great example of that.”
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