Alcohol and Huntington University typically don’t mix. Students attending HU sign the Community Life Agreement, which states that undergraduates cannot consume any alcohol during their time at the school, even when off campus during breaks.
Last year, SGA proposed a change in the policy to allow students of legal age to consume alcohol off campus, regardless of whether or not it is during breaks. The policy was presented to faculty members and Sherilyn Emberton, university president, but was not granted approval as it moved up the chain of command.
The Student Government Association was not deterred, however, and has been refining a new proposal.
“They have revamped and rewritten that policy,” Rachel Platt, commuter representative on SGA, said. “They kind of eliminated the fluff.”
The proposed change would allow students that are of legal age to drink off campus during breaks from school.
“This is something SGA feels is super important and that needs to be changed,” Millie Smith, student body president of SGA, said. “We believe it’s important. We believe that it’s a necessary change.”
Their goal is to educate students about responsible alcohol consumption and to enable students to have a mature and healthy relationship with alcohol.
The SGA policy states, “We feel as though the current policy does not adequately allow space for such decision making.”
There have also been some concerns about inconsistency when it comes to punishment for breaking the alcohol clause in the Community Life Agreement.
Platt said a couple years ago, girl had gone home on Thanksgiving break, had taken a picture with her aunt and was tagged in it on Facebook. Her aunt was holding a wine glass in the photo, and someone reported the student.
Platt said the aunt did attest that it was her wine and the student was not drinking, but she was fined anyway.
A student in Roush Hall bought some empty wine bottles for decoration last year. She cleared it with her RA, and had the receipt to back it up, but was fined for possession of “alcohol paraphernalia.”
“I don’t think that’s in the handbook,” Platt said about the fine for alcohol paraphernialia.
Ron Coffey, vice president for student life and SGA faculty advisor, said in an email that he was “simply unaware” of the wine bottle incident.
“That’s something we’re wanting to add,” Smith said. “There needs to be consistency when there’s punishment. It needs to be the same across the board.”
To that end, SGA added a section on disciplinary consistency to their proposal. Overall, Smith wants there to be a clear and consistent message when it comes to the university’s alcohol policy.
And it looks like there’s a good chance they can achieve their goals. SGA’s Student Life Committee met with Emberton on Nov. 30 to present their proposal to her. Smith said that the meeting went well, and Emberton seemed very positive and supportive of the policy change.
“I believe that SGA has worked hard to present a proposal that they believe addresses a concern for a number of students,” Coffey said over email.
And that belief bears true. A convenience survey conducted in the dining commons shows that 88 percent of students support SGA’s policy change. Many of them believe that it’s a common-sense change.
The policy change still has to be approved by the Board of Trustees before anything happens, but SGA is optimistic about it. Although the original policy from last spring was changed, SGA sees this as a step in the right direction.
“It still is a dry campus, so I think it’s still respectful to those who do not want to partake in alcohol,” Platt said. “I definitely support it. I think it’s a very fair policy all around and uses good common sense.”
Smith said she and SGA believe in the cause and will fight for it.
“I’m putting my whole heart [behind it], SGA’s putting its whole heart behind it, and I hope that the Board of Trustees can see that.”