A popular topic among St. Ambrose students over the past week has been the possibility of reforming the alcohol policy for future school years, a decision that doesn’t come easy according to Dean of Students Tim Phillips.
The possible reform of the policy would be to start introducing fines to students who violate the drug and alcohol policy set forth by the student handbook. Currently, students in violation of the policy would be subject to warning and informed decisions that could include more punishment as set forth by those reviewing each individual case. A policy that includes fines would not be a first as it used to be the rules enforced by St. Ambrose.
“As we talked about it and laid those for consideration on the table, my concern about fines was that I don’t want it to be seen as a revenue stream for the university because that’s not the purpose,” Phillips said. “If we do collect any money, what we would like it to do is go back into the community in some way. The only way that we’re willing to consider any type of fine system is if it then becomes a pool of money that can be used to improve the community in some way.”
Early in April, students were sent a link to a survey done by the Alcohol and Other Drug Environmental Committee on campus. The anonymous survey asked whether they would support a fine system, one that could be a flat fee or increasing fee for each violation.
“It’s always a bit of a contiguous issue because I think socially many would take the attitude that they can vote and die for their country at 18, why can’t they have an alcoholic beverage,” Phillips said. “By the same token, we have expectations from the federal government that when we receive and further financial aid, we have to enforce state and federal law as it’s written, so we try to work that piece.”
Concerns have been heard from the students and other organizations on campus, such as the resident advisors and the Student Government Association.
“I think our RAs have questions about enforcement and how that links with relationship so we’re not fully convinced that going forth with a fine system will obtain the outcomes that we desire within our educations system,” Phillips said. “So the jury is out on whether a fine system would be part of the overall process and whether it would be effective.”
The changes wouldn’t happen this school year, and students would receive plenty of notification if such a policy were put into place. Phillips said that they are taking all opinions into consideration from students to faculty to the committee and wants everyone to be informed throughout the whole process.
“We welcome feedback and would love to see others’ input,” Phillips said. “We’re not sold that that’s the direction that we want to go and the input helps greatly.”