Members of student government unanimously approved two changes to the recommended campus alcohol policy brought forth by a graduate student representative Wednesday, resonating with faculty senators’ opposition to the proposed alcohol permit application process.
The first amendment to the recommended policy is to allow registered student organizations with graduate and professional students to get alcohol permits at student-only events and to allow teaching assistants and project assistants to serve as responsible employees at such events.
The current recommended campus alcohol policy will no longer allow registered student organizations to get alcohol permits and will require faculty or staff to serve as responsible employees at events that serve alcohol.
“We want to make sure the students’ voices are heard, we see these as vital to maintain the community environment,” Wheeler said. “[We want to] be sure that events with participants who are above the minimum drinking age can be possible without the prohibitive cost.”
In addition to the amendment directly related to graduate students, Wheeler’s other amendment is to allow alcohol permits at large department gatherings that last longer than two hours and have more than 50 attendees.
According to University Health Services Executive Director Sarah Van Orman, chair of the University of Wisconsin Alcohol Policy Task Force, not allowing graduate students to serve as responsible employees is a means of protection.
“Graduate students should not be put into the position… to deal with those kind of situations when you have faculty and staff members present,” Van Orman said at the presentation to the Faculty Senate.
Wheeler said that is not the issue they are after, although contrary to the anecdotal evidence provided by Van Orman, she had never heard of or met a graduate student who has been put in a “power situation” with faculty, staff and alcohol.
The first amendment does not refer to department-wide gatherings but student-only activities, such as events held by the 67 registered professional or graduate student organizations.
The other amendment will prevent large department gatherings from getting prohibitively expensive, Wheeler said.
“One way that we maintain a sense of community and collegiality… at the department is through social activities,” Wheeler said. “Currently alcohol is provided by participants or event planners, and that’s what we’d like to see continue.”
According to Wheeler, departments such as history and sociology hold annual social activities that attract over a hundred people and “picnics are simply not two-hour events.”
Currently the Vice Chancellor’s office is taking feedback from faculty, staff and students on the website. However, the survey only contains two multiple-choice questions unrelated to the specific content of the recommended policy and a comment box.
Wheeler encouraged students to use the comment box for specific changes and said she is in the progress of preparing a document to present to the Vice Chancellor’s office for review.