At the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year, St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) announced changes to the enforcement of alcohol policy, raising public outcry both from current and former students who find fault in the protocol. The stricter enforcement changes pertain to open containers, open door parties, and efforts to reduce noise.
The new adjustments were introduced at a Resident Assistant (RA) meeting on Aug. 26, where students and staff were given time to review and discuss the modified policy. The changes in policy state that if a student is found in possession of a clearly labeled alcoholic beverage, such as a can or bottle, the RA must write up the offending student and record the student’s SMCM identification number. In the case of a party that is not being properly contained inside of a residence, the RAs are instructed to break up the situation.
Students are irate over the new enforcement tactics for music, which encourages Public Safety and RAs to document students who project music out of their windows. The consequences for violating this policy include having a noise complaint filed if the noise pollutes surrounding areas.
Students from the College, both current students and alumni, are raising concerns over the justification of the policy changes through social media outlets such as Change.org. Cameron Keyani, ’16, began a petition online to address the faults in the policy, stating that the policy is “diverting institutional resources and focus away from educating young minds, and towards micromanaging campus life.” Keyani also claimed that Public Safety has a “cavalier” attitude when handling situations on campus. “We will not be donating a single cent to our beloved alma mater,” Keyani promises with the support of peers in agreement, “as long as this sorry state of affairs continues.” The petition also chastises the administration for buying an unnecessary squad of Dodge Chargers for the Public Safety office instead of focusing on more important issues such as the safety and well being of the student body.
Another student, senior Hannah Roe, posted a note on her Facebook timeline addressing her concerns to the recently policy changes, recognizing that “Restricting drinking to closed door parties is not harm reduction for binge drinking like the St. Mary’s administration seems to think,” and going on to speak about the discrepancies between what the policy promises and how the actual handling of situations will be affected.
Roe notes that the fear of being written up will threaten the relationship between the students and RAs as well as Public Safety members, saying “pushing people into private parties is a good way to ensure sexual assault with fewer witnesses happens, people don’t seek help from RAs or Public Safety for fear of being written up, and the younger students who will still inevitably wander into random parties will not be as safe as they would be outside in public.”
This statement directly contrasts with the ideals of the policy, but also draws attention away from another pressing issue. Students have speculated that the College’s administration is pushing for a tighter grip on the alcohol and party policy to turn the focus away from the College’s president, Tuajuanda C. Jordan, Ph.D., and her suspected DUIs alleged mismanagement of College funds.
Editor’s Note: As of Tuesday, Sept. 11 speakers projecting music outside of residences are permitted on Friday and Saturday nights as long as notice is given and permission is obtained from neighbors.