Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College
Yellow Wood Commission

Campus Life

Meeting of April 1, 2010

Posted on April 1, 2010

OLD GAMES ROOM

PRESENT: Raza Amin ’12, Co-Chair Gabe Amo ‘10, SGA President; Craig Andrade, Associate Dean of Health and Wellness; Tim Barker, Professor of Physics/Astronomy; Abigail Earle ’11, Charles Furgal, Director of Public Safety; Co-Chair Andrea Holden, Assistant Director of Student Life; Kenneth Monroe ’12, Rebecca Pye, Campus Coordinator; Alyssa Sands ’11, Alexandra Schibanoff ’12,

ABSENT: Jim Mancall, Associate Dean of Studies for 1st and Sophomore Years; John Sutyak, Associate Director of Athletics

OTHERS: Janith Hancock, Adm. Associate, Dean of Students Office

The meeting of the Yellow Wood Commission opened at 3:33pm and opened with a review of the progress of the small groups and their initiatives.

. Community Conversations – did not have an opportunity to meet during the past week but intend to get together to set dates and also possibly coming back to the whole table to get more direction and feedback from everyone

. Safe Rides – met with taxi company; owner is open to making calls whenever on the weekend; 24 hours a day; willing to set up system; Checker Taxi has been more available than any other taxi and would like the business; understand the rides are relatively close by and back and forth to the campus; no long rides; would meet with them again to discuss alternate pricing so students would be clear about knowing what they will need to have in their pockets to pay for the taxi fare ahead of time

. Recording Personal Stories – talked with web-team and they see there is potential about doing some type of video and how we link them with some non-Wheaton websites (maybe Face Book or U-Tube that just does audio) and not upload everything but just the appropriate material

. Events with Alcohol – did not meet

. Amnesty – have not met but there was a conversation with the SGA Alcohol Group and they are interested in gathering information; suggested that it may be helpful for the Amnesty group to connect with the Alcohol Prevention Coalition in order to supplement what they have already done.

The group also reinforced the understanding that members may talk with others in the community about what is being worked on by the Commission.

Conversation moved to discussing the alcohol policy. Two questions were asked: 1) Where in the regulations of the policies (rules) we have so far is it unclear for a student to interpret and 2) How can we improve the presentation. The alcohol policy was then read and reviewed, item by item, and members discussed their interpretations of each item. Ambiguities arose, and it was clear there were many different understandings of what the policy was/was not saying. Discussed at length was the definition of Common Spaces and what that meant in the various areas of the campus such as:  Lounges in suites and houses; Other common spaces in non-residence halls, Balfour-Hood Campus Center, dining halls and event spaces. Also of concern was the "Open Door" policy, what is considered a "Common Source", what is an "Open Container" and how each of the policies are enforced. Perhaps the policy could be written in a way that is more clear and web-friendly. How the policy is interpreted regarding whether a student is 21 or under 21 years old also brought concern.   The words "keep and consume" caused confusion as well as the definition of "intoxication". It was suggested that perhaps a matrix could be developed to highlight and make clearer the various "rules" of the alcohol policy. Other questions addressed were:

. Would having conversations with Dean Williams and others and/or having them attend a    Commission meeting to discuss their views on the alcohol policy be helpful?

. Would it be helpful to also have the law stated?

. Is the understanding of the policy by students living in theme housing different from that of   students living in residence halls?

. Do students understand that the Wheaton campus is public space and not private?

Linking the policy on the website to the law, having the policy written with greater clarity, and including a FAQ section linked to each bulleted point of the policy may be helpful to students.

The Commission went on to discuss the sanctions part of the Alcohol Policy. Sanctions other than fines may be beneficial and helpful to students and are used on occasion by some departments; however, personnel availability is needed to use this alternate sanction method. There is a judicial database that is used by Student Life to keep track of violations of the alcohol policy by students.  How long is this information kept on the database? Is it expunged on a regular basis once a student is no longer at Wheaton? Concern was raised about the different violation levels and how a student might go from Level I to Level II and if they could go directly to Level III for a first offense. It was also unclear whether a student could be subject to a higher level of disciplinary action if the violation occurred in their room. Is the level of the violation affected by the relationship the student has with the Area Coordinator? Should extenuating circumstances be allowed? Should the language be rigid or have flexibility?

The Commission closed by agreeing to continue the work of the small groups and to have them report their progress again at the next meeting. Conversations about the Alcohol Policy and how to make it clearer will continue. Also, April 22, is the date for the forum with the community. The meeting adjourned at 5pm.

Respectfully submitted,

Janith Hancock
Administrative Associate
Office of the Dean of Students

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