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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Deans and alcohol review committee renew discussion about alcohol culture on campus

<go, students received an all-campus email recruiting them to join the Alcohol Review Committee, a team of faculty, staff and students gathered together to discuss alcohol use on campus. 

Associate Dean of Students Cathy Carlson, the board leader, is working to increase awareness of the college’s alcohol policies.

The alcohol review committee has existed at Carleton for the past 18 years “to explore the alcohol climate on campus and make recommendations to the College about how to make Carleton a safer place based on alcohol use,” Carlson said. 

The board was formed primarily to protect student safety, but also to review the college’s compliance with federal laws, such as the Drug Free Schools and Communities Act. 

According to Carlson, the college is required to review these policies every two years.

The committee “is not a policy changing group, but we put recommendations forth based on the students,” Carlson said.  She added that the board makes these recommendations to the College Council and president based on discussion comparing Carleton’s policies with other schools’ policies.

Recently, the board’s recommendations have led the college to place tighter restrictions on kegs and to enforce a ban on drinking games, which Carlson said was put into policy ten years ago but never showed up in the books.  The next topics of discussion will be campus events such as Sayles dances and spring events.
“Safety to students is number one,” said Carlson, but we also “need to comply with laws.”

The committee is made up of staff, one faculty member, and usually five to eight students. Currently the board has only three student members: Evan Liebowitz ‘11, Emma Brobeck ‘11, and Eric Leppink ‘11. 

Brobeck joined the committee “largely because I was unhappy about the alcohol culture, and also because I wanted to understand what was going on administratively as well as from other students’ perspectives,” she said. 

Liebowitz expressed a similar unhappiness with the alcohol culture on campus, which he said he gained from his experience as an RA.

“In particular, what bothered me the most was seeing freshmen on my floor who hadn’t drank at all in high school suddenly start to binge drink once they hit college, often because it seemed like it was expected of them as college freshmen to drink,” he said.

Both Brobeck and Liebowitz also expressed a desire to rid the campus alcohol culture of stigmas and stereotypes surrounding the choice of drinking.

“When I joined, I mainly had a desire to bridge a gap between the students who are ‘sub-free’ and those who are not,” Brobeck said. “I had lived on a sub-free floor for two years, and I was unhappy that the term carried a negative connotation for some students, while those who lived on the [sub-free] floors could easily end up isolating themselves from other sections of the campus.”

Evan expressed a similar desire to rid the campus of stereotypes like “‘you have to be drunk to enjoy a Sayles dance,” as well as “beliefs that ‘subfree kids are boring’ and ‘non-subfree kids are always drunk.’” 
He also added his desire “to de-emphasize alcohol as a part of student life.”

Carlson hopes to add several new student members to the committee to create a group of students diverse in their experiences with alcohol. 

“Sometimes I think we can get stuck in a segment of the student population, and we have trouble seeing across the borders, but when we are able to discuss across years and viewpoints it helps us develop our own,” Brobeck said, adding, “I want to see a safe and healthy community. I don’t care whether students choose to drink or not, but I want to at least know that they are able to keep themselves and others safe.”

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