Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College
Yellow Wood Commission

Campus Life

Meeting of April 8, 2010

Posted on April 8, 2010


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; Jim Mancall, Associate Dean of Studies for 1st and Sophomore Years; Kenneth Monroe ’12, Alyssa Sands ’11, Alexandra Schibanoff ’12, John Sutyak, Associate Director of Athletics

ABSENT: Rebecca Pye, Campus Coordinator

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

The meeting of the Yellow Wood Commission opened at 3:33pm. It was suggested that the Commission may want to focus on the areas of the Alcohol Policy violations that need change because they are unclear and work with those areas that are more substantive another time. Also to be discussed is the community discussion that will be taking place on April 22 and what we would like to see happen at that event.

Gabe Amo will be graduating this year and a new co-chair will be needed. He asked the student members of the Commission to think about serving in that capacity. Those interested should email Gabe by Monday, April 12. There will also be a workshop at Assumption College on April 14 and those members interested in going should make arrangements as soon as possible. Bios and photos of the members of the Yellow Wood Commission should be submitted as soon as possible so they can be incorporated into the new website. Members may also want to consider new issues they want to talk about so time can be set aside to discuss them.

The members then continued their discussion of the Alcohol Policy, Level II violations. It was noted that the format for Level II appears to be visibly problematic in its block form. Perhaps if the information was in a different format it would flow better. Also, there may be need to clarify the Social Host definition. One member's interpretation was that Social Host meant that if a violation occurred and it was your room, you would receive a Level II violation and everyone else would receive a Level I. Another definition may be that the person hosting the party was the Social Host and would be liable for behavior that happens in the room. Also asked was the capacity of a room. Some students would like to see that specified in the policy. The law regarding persons possessing, drinking and providing alcohol was then read.

The members talked about potential sanctions for Level II violations. It was asked if there were academic sanctions and what would they be. Presently there are no academic sanctions. Students may receive sanctions that require them to write a paper or do community service. Some students view writing a paper for a sanction as busy work and having little meaning. Perhaps academic sanctions may be considered in the future, and they would be based on the incident. Concern was raised about whether or not information about alcohol violations and sanctions would appear on a student's transcript and who would have access to the students file. The file is the property of the college and not the student. Students are allowed to see the file and make notes but may not make copies. The information about alcohol violations are not on a student's transcript. There were questions about whether a student could take an appeal of an alcohol sanction to the College Hearing Board and how that process would work. Would these violations and sanctions change the student's status? If a student is placed on housing probation, does that mean they are no longer in good standing, and is it an official disciplinary action? Also of concern was whether sanctions should be “mandatory” and be spelled out or if sanctions should be “potential” sanctions. It was felt that there is a need to be consistent, and, perhaps, a letter is all that is needed for a first offense. It was suggested that having an Area Coordinator attend one of the Yellow Wood meetings to talk about consistency and choices available to ACs may be helpful. Not all incidents are the same but if certain things are mandatory that may need to be stated. It is important to understand where discretion can occur and to separate mandatory sanctions from potential sanctions and how students ascend the levels of violations. How often students have appealed alcohol violation sanctions to the College Hearing Board was asked and determined to be rare. Do students lose their leadership positions if given an alcohol violation? There appears to be only two levels of violations: Level 1 and Level II, III, and IV.

The group discussed at length the upcoming Community Conversation to be held on April 22 and what the format should be, the length of the conversation, and how students would be made aware of the event. The Commission would like to gather information from those attending and also let them know what the Commission has been working on. They want to have the community know they are looking for their ideas and thoughts about the work they are doing. They are hoping to learn what others feel the alcohol culture is at Wheaton, what do they dislike about the alcohol culture, what they would like to change, what specific issues they want changed about the alcohol policy and violation sanctions, how dangerous drinking can be reduced, how can harm be reduced, etc.  Concern was raised that many students may not be able to attend the forum because of athletic practices or classes/labs. However, this forum is just one of several and those will be at various times to accommodate others schedules.

Having the “story project” move forward was revisited. It was suggested that the café could be used as an area where students could record their stories by means of a microphone and video camera and then it could be included in information available to others. This could be a very powerful aid.

It was suggested that at next week's meeting the sub-groups report on any work they have been doing (the Safe Rides group is planning to meet again with the taxi company). The members were reminded to send their bios and photo to the co-chairs as soon as possible so the information could be placed on the website before the April 22 Community Conversation.

The meeting adjourned at 5pm.

Respectfully submitted,

Janith L. Hancock
Administrative Associate
Office of the Dean of Students

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