New Alcohol Policy Enforcement Raises Concerns Over Safety, Campus Culture

At the beginning of the semester, the College implemented new enforcement procedures on existing policies on alcohol and gatherings, along with new policies introduced last year that students are still questioning.  Students have shown great concern over the new enforcement procedures, which were communicated to north campus residents by Residence Life staff during the first weeks of school.

One major change is the enforcement of open container policy, which is a Maryland state law. Previously, students were only documented for open container violations on certain occasions. Now, all open container violations will be documented and filed with Conduct Board.

Additionally, in an InsideSMCM announcement Dean of Students, Leonard Brown, clarified the enforcement procedures regarding social host policy. He stated that “the social host policy was approved and implemented last academic year which simply means that if you host a party that permits policy violations such as underage drinking or destruction of policy, the hosts will be held responsible.”

A flyer distributed to north campus residents, discussing the new enforcement procedures, also noted that college policy prohibits “projecting music towards common spaces from your house or unit.” RAs were instructed to document residents who had outward-facing speakers and ask them to turn the speakers back into the residence. These guidelines in particular brought up many concerns from students and Residence Assistants (RAs).

Brown met with RAs Samantha Berenschot–Bucciero, ‘19, and Daniel Belson, ‘19, concerning the new speaker guidelines, the thoughts of RAs, and what the student body was vocalizing. Belson stated that “I think that before this meeting there has been a lot of anger towards the Dean, it’s the students versus the administrators, but I think since they’ve shown a willingness to cooperate, I think we should take advantage of that and work together with them.” After the meeting with Brown, RAs and residents on north campus met and discussed what they believe are good policies that a majority of the student body could agree on.

This “focus group” drafted a new policy that has since become the procedure for dealing with amplified music on north campus. The policy states that “to create an atmosphere conducive to studying, sleeping, and socializing, stereo speakers on north campus housing may only be directed and projected out of windows on Friday and Saturday nights from 8:00pm to 1:00am.” The volumes of speakers “must be kept at a level that shows courtesy to the surrounding residences.” This policy will be revised and presented to the Board of Trustees to be added to the To The Point student handbook

The students have become more concerned about what the future will hold after events that occurred on the first weekend of the Fall semester. Emma Hugonnet, ‘19, and her two housemates, Max Kriegsfeld, ‘19, and Will Becker, ‘20, hosted a small social gathering on that Saturday. Sometime after 11:00 p.m., RAs showed up at their home, saying that Public Safety had been called about a noise complaint.

The RAs instructed the residents to turn the music down a notch or two, and that they either needed everyone to move into their house or tell everyone that they needed to empty their open containers. They told the residents that they would be back within an hour. Less than 30 minutes later, a group of RAs and Public Safety Officers had arrived to shut down the social gathering. Things began getting heated when a fellow Townhouse resident was handcuffed by an officer, for as Hugonnet put it, “being a bit sassy for a little bit, but then realizing it was a bad idea.”

The student body on the Greens was up in arms about what had happened and words were exchanged between the several students amongst the RAs and the Public Safety officers. Kriegsfeld stated that he was a part this discussion, but said, “I wouldn’t say that we were really instigating it, it was more so the viewing of her getting handcuffed that set people off.” The social gathering was broken up and everyone went back to their residences, and Hugonnet and her housemates discussed with a Public Safety officer what they were being written up for and had a discussion about the events and felt that they walked away on decent terms. The next morning Brown sent emails to them asking to sit down and discuss what had happened and to hear their side of the story.

Hugonnet, Kriegsfield, Becker, and Aaron Weinstein (their housemate who was away during the events) met with Brown to discuss the events that occurred and discussing the opinions and suggestions about the policies. Kriegsfield said that during the discussion he said “mainly dancing on the Greens and music outside is quintessential to the St. Mary’s experience,” and felt that, “it was being taken away for essentially no reason.”

A Student Government Association (SGA) meeting took place on Tuesday, Sept. 11, and students aired their concerns about these policies to the SGA as well as Brown, Executive Director of Student Life Derek Young and Director of Public Safety Tressa Setlak. For more information on this speakout, see our article “Students Speak Out About New Alcohol Enforcement Guidelines.”

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