Keggy the Regulated Keg

To be regulated...

To be regulated…

While most of the talk surrounding Moving Dartmouth Forward has centered on the hard alcohol ban, the recommendations spanned a variety of topics, including “Community Citizenship,” “Student Organization Standards and Review,” and, needless to say, “Social Event and Alcohol Management.” Since the release, the College has formed three “Working Groups,” each to address one of these issues. The Community Citizenship group has already released its report, which outlined a new “Proposed Code of Conduct Pledge.” The Student Organizations group has outlined a draft of its proposal, but its chairs could not be reached for comment by press time. The third group, headed by Taylor Watson ‘16 and Assistant Dean and Director of Case Management Kristi Clemens, has not yet released any materials, but Watson agreed to sit down with The Dartmouth Review and elaborate on the group’s process. The Review found that, contrary to many students’ beliefs, the hard alcohol ban will not be the only change to the College’s policy on alcohol. Fortunately, the upcoming changes may be of a better nature.

The Dartmouth Review: The official website says that the Social Event and Alcohol Management Working Group “is charged with  reviewing and revising policy and expectations related to hosting social events and alcohol management … this includes conversation around third-party vendors and event security.” How do you define your task?

Taylor Watson: We have actual talked about the definition thing within the group. “Social Event Management Procedure” is the technical acronym, but we have no jurisdiction over outcomes, such as consequences or punishments for alcohol violations, or College policy, as far as what the College will or will not accept. For example, we could not institute [a specific policy] if we wanted to. What we do have jurisdiction over is why we have shifted towards our preferred acronym, AMP, which stands for Alcohol Management Procedure. What we’re doing is saying, “If you’re going to have alcohol, here is how much you can have for this many people, and if you have this, you have to have this kind of oversight.”

TDR: Why did you apply to join, and what was the application process like?

TW: My name was given to the co-chair, Kristi Clemens, who said, “I want to find a student co-chair who understands student life, [whom] should I pick?” I had recently become the accountability chair for the Greek Leadership Council, so in that capacity, I have studied these issues a lot. I have also been President of Sigma Phi Epsilon over the summer, so I had both a first-hand experience of registering events, managing parties, and having contact with S&S and a broader oversight of the trends, what was happening on campus with these issues, and how the current policy stood. It also made sense because I will be here next year, when we are implementing [new policies]. When it came to forming the group itself, we had a ton of applicants, almost 60 or so. We had students, staff, and one faculty member apply. People came from all different groups, affiliated and unaffiliated, and we ended up picking people mostly by their experience with handling alcohol events, as one of our goals was a realistic policy. One of the problems with the current SEMP is that about 20 percent are registered. That’s obviously no good, because the policy discourages using it. We had a great group with representation from Safety and Security (S&S), the GLOS Office, ’16s, ’17s, and ’15s.

TDR: Is it hard for students to be honest about current issues and potential solutions with so many powerful staff in the room?

TW: It’s a very open dialogue. We are all there because we want to manage alcohol well. We don’t want students going to the hospital. I immediately opened up that over the summer, when we had events, we would not register them, and they know that it’s true. Safety and Security could shut down pretty much every party they go to. Almost nobody is 100 percent compliant. But S&S doesn’t because what they’re looking for is the really egregious behaviors.

TDR: To what extent was the Greek System the focus of conversations?

TW: The thing about AMP is that it also applies to non-Greek organizations, like The Dartmouth or Club Soccer, or the Veterans organization. If you are having an alcohol event, you have to go through the SEMP. They don’t apply as much to some of those events. They know it’s kind of ridiculous when the [Dartmouth Undergraduate Veterans Association, or DUVA], mostly older students, want to have a dinner and have wine at it, they have to register it with the College. That’s a little odd. We are cognizant of that, but for the most part, the rules are applying to Greek houses. There is definitely a Greek focus to it, especially because we are trying to address high-risk drinking, and that occurs almost exclusively at Greek Houses. Here was plenty of Greek representation in the group.

TDR: Were there diverse opinions within the group?

TW: We definitely have the full spectrum of conservative to liberal views about alcohol. The majority of us are definitely in the middle and think that as things are right now, we should definitely take a step or two back from the amount of alcohol on campus, but that there is no reason to go all out. There are people saying that the current system, or aspects of it, is restrictive in ways that are actually making things more dangerous. For example, there are rules about having kegs and cans. That causes people to not have kegs [at registered events and] increases the number of unregistered kegs, which is unsafe. With the imposition of the hard alcohol ban, people don’t like that fact that you can only have one kind of alcohol, like beer or cider or wine. The reason that rule I in place is twofold: one is the old adage, “beer and liquor, never sicker,” that, if you are mixing hard alcohol and other alcohol, that is more dangerous to your health. The other thing is that if you are Safety and Security, Dick’s House or DHMC and somebody comes in who has been drinking alcohol, with [both hard alcohol and other types]… it’s harder to asses them. Without hard alcohol, that rule makes less sense. It doesn’t make a lot of difference if I have two Mike’s a Hards and a Bud Light Lime — it’s three standard drinks that are five or so percent.

TDR: Can you tell me more about the discussion around kegs?

TW: Kegs are a really complicated issue, for a couple of reasons. Part of it is obscurely related to federal law and this and that, but basically, people don’t like how hard it is to get a keg, and, once you have a keg, the rules around it. Those are the main criticisms. A lot of people say that it is generally too complicated. It’s not an easy thing to look at: the cheat sheet itself is like a messed up map. But at the end of the day, you go to Dartmouth, you should be able to figure this out. Kegs are on our radar.

TDR: What instructions did the administration give you?

TW: When we got the chart from Moving Dartmouth Forward, [they told us to] look at [alcohol policy] and see what needs changing, but within that, to make sure there was some amount of event security and third-party bartenders. We started by looking back at SEMP through the years. We went back all the way to 1972. It built over time. There was this general idea that with the loss of hard alcohol, the restrictions on beer and wine and other substances would become lesser, but only in a vague sense.

TDR: How did you discuss event security and third-party bartenders?

TW: We look at it from a cost perspective and from a liability perspective. Training security or bartenders is not easy, but a lot of that is not our jurisdiction. Those are more things that Dean Clemens knows about. She will also be the one recommending how that goes forward. We talked about them at length, to be sure, and gave our best recommendations as to what we thought would fit with the other recommendations and work best on campus, but a lot of that is not set in stone. When it comes to both of these things, we are talking about large events. We spent a full day just discussing, “What is an event? When does it go from tier one to tier two to tier three?” We came at it in a lot of ways… but at the end of the day, what matters is how many people are there, how many people are consuming alcohol at your event. If you have a dry event, it really doesn’t matter how many people are there. Once you introduce alcohol, the number of people becomes important. Now you need to have a certain number of risk managers. We may try something in the summer and refine it in the fall, but third-party security at large, open events is a reality.

TDR: Can you provide an insight into the relationship between the staff and the students within the group?

TW: The students have been presenting a unified front within the group, to a large extent. We came forward and said, “You want registration, we want transparency. We don’t want to keep playing games about, ‘Oh, we’re only going to have two cases, wink, wink, nudge, nudge.’” What we said is that we are going to have this much alcohol, and if you don’t have a standard that allows for that, we are probably not going to register. I mean we can meet half-way to some extent, but if I am running an open basement…. Part of what we love about the Greek System is this idea of openness. I can go to house ‘X’ whenever they’re open, and I won’t get turned away because I’m male or because I don’t know someone there. But with that idea that I have to treat people equally, comes the need to have alcohol to serve everybody. Safety being our first goal, I’d say that’s easily our second or third goal: transparent — or realistic — dialog about how much alcohol there is and how it’s used. There were some big laughs at certain things. A good example is that there is a band playing at Beta tonight called the “Third Party Bartenders.” That got blitzed out to the group, saying, “Oh, why don’t we just have them at every event and we’ll call it a day.” I have definitely enjoyed working with Dean Clemens and getting to know the other peole in the group.

TDR: How does this feed into the discussion about inclusivity and the Greek System?

TW: If you ask the average affiliated person right now, they would probably say the Greek System is super inclusive at Dartmouth. What they really mean, and what administrators are quick to point out, is that the Greek System is really open at Dartmouth. Those are two different words. If we had a truly inclusive system, somebody who is disabled or somebody who has never been to a Greek house before could show up and feel totally comfortable. If I’m in a wheelchair and I go to most houses and I want to play pong, it’s a little hard to get on table and to navigate the basement and things like that. That being said, they’re correct that taking away that openness takes us away from the ultimate goal of more inclusivity.

TDR: What can you tell me about your soon-to-be released draft proposal?

TW: Our current first draft has been brought to a number of different groups, and it has gotten very good reviews. Most people I have talked to have said that it’s a huge step forward and that it’s good for both sides. It’s a compromise that moves us towards the goals of safety and openness.

The Dartmouth Review would like to thank Mr. Watson for his time and his efforts on behalf of Dartmouth students.