Last week, members of the Wesleyan Student Assembly (WSA) and administration began discussing the creation of an open container policy that would determine whether students who are over 21 are permitted to consume alcohol in public areas on campus. Currently, the Code of Non-Academic Conduct does not prohibit the public consumption of alcohol, except in academic buildings, the Usdan University Center, and within 15 feet of the sidewalk or street.
Assistant Director of Student Life Scott Backer said that the creation of an Open Container Policy is just one step in a larger University effort to encourage responsible drinking.
“Students who are 21 should be able to responsibly enjoy alcohol at their residence,” Backer wrote in an e-mail to The Argus. “But having the ability to walk around with alcohol or to be able to consume alcohol in public spaces or during campus events, places alcohol in a central role rather than the event itself.”
According to Micah Feiring ’11, who co-Chairs the Policy and Accountability Committee with Backer, most WSA members oppose the creation of regulations that would tighten restrictions on open containers.
“A ban on open containers would encourage the type of drinking that leads to alcohol poisoning and would seriously jeopardize student safety,” Feiring said. “Such a policy would unfairly prevent those of legal drinking age from enjoying a beer on Foss Hill on a beautiful day.
WSA Student Affairs Committee Chair David Goldman’12, who sits on the Policy and Accountability Committee, agreed with Feiring.
“Nearly all of the students who are sent to the hospital [get sick] because of pre-gaming,” he said. “I believe that any sort of policy would just encourage students to drink inside instead of drinking outside in a safe location.”
According to Backer, no matter the outcome of the policy, alcohol would still be permitted at registered social events as long as it has been approved though the necessary offices.
While the discussion is still in the early stages, Backer said that new policies are usually implemented at the beginning of an academic year. Any changes to the Code of Non-Academic Conduct must be approved by President Michael Roth.