Alcohol banished from res halls in fall

Only Centennial Hall and residential apartment buildings will be exempt, regardless of residents’ age.

by Emma Carew

Students reapplying for University housing for 2006-2007 should read the fine print.

University Housing and Residential Life has, in an attempt to “be more up front about (its) values,”changed its alcohol policy for the coming school year, said Susan Stubblefield, assistant director of Housing and Residential Life.

Next year, most residence halls will be alcohol-free, regardless of the ages of the residents.

The new alcohol policy allows students of legal drinking age to possess and consume alcohol in the residential apartments (Roy Wilkins Hall, University Village, Yudof Hall) and Centennial Hall, Stubblefield said.

The policy change has been in the works for more than a year, she said, and the housing department developed a task force to look into the current state of alcohol-related incidents on campus.

Wachen Anderson, judicial affairs coordinator for Housing and Residential Life, said that because of time constraints, the housing department did not consider student input while making the decision.

“There certainly are areas where we do seek (student opinion),” she said. “But with this, we knew which direction we needed to go.”

The policy change will affect about 200 students, Stubblefield said, and most of them are community advisers.

As the University’s housing has expanded, she said, apartments have been increasingly inhabited by upperclassmen, more of whom are of legal drinking age, and the traditional residence halls have been geared toward first-year students.

The housing department chose to include Centennial Hall with the apartments because the hall has the greatest number of single rooms. Also, many upperclassmen looking for a traditional residence hall experience can choose to live there, Stubblefield said.

“I think (the changes) will make students more aware of the policy,” Residential Housing Association President Collin Bonde said.

The current policy is a little ambiguous for some halls, he said.

“Now there’s no if, ands or buts about it because you can’t have (alcohol) there,” Bonde said about the residence halls.

About a year and a half ago the department began looking into the first-year student experience and what really defined “substance-free,” Stubblefield said.

Currently, Territorial Hall and Frontier Hall, as well as parts of Bailey Hall and Sanford Hall are dry living communities because they are first-year student housing.

Students also will have the opportunity to reside in living and learning communities on the East Bank and West Bank that will focus on substance-free activities and programs, she said.

One community will be in Middlebrook Hall on the West Bank and one will be in Pioneer Hall on the East Bank, Stubblefield said.

Students interested in the program will be required to submit an essay committing themselves to a lifestyle free of tobacco, alcohol and drugs, she said.

This will be the first year of the program, Anderson said, but it has found great success at other universities and there have been much higher application rates than expected on other campuses.

The program may need to be expanded, she said, possibly to its own residence hall.

“We’ll look at it and assess from year to year,” Anderson said.

First-year student and Bailey Hall resident Jessica Schaefer said the new policy wouldn’t change her decision to live in the residence halls next year but that it probably will change other people’s decisions about living in the residence halls.

“I think people are just going to continue what they’re doing,” she said. “If they were doing it before, (the new policy) isn’t going to stop them.”

Room reapplication for current residents will begin Jan. 23. More information will be distributed to students in the residence halls and via e-mail.