Amid hazing allegations, UA reviews alcohol policy
Members aim to make it easier for groups to register on-campus parties
November 9, 2011, 1:04 am · Updated November 10, 2011, 3:30 am·
Amidst an ongoing University investigation on alleged hazing in the Undergraduate Assembly, its leaders will present a resolution to change Penn’s alcohol policy on Nov. 20.
Since September, UA members have worked with the Office of Alcohol and Other Drug Program Initiatives and other campus groups to review the policy.
The UA allegedly hazes new members with rituals featuring heavy drinking, UA associate member Mo Shahin wrote in a Daily Pennsylvanian guest column on Friday.
“This behavior jeopardizes their ability to advocate effectively on behalf of the students they represent,” the College senior wrote.
If UA members vote to pass the resolution this Sunday, student leaders will present the changes to University administrators for approval.
Proposed changes will make it easier to register on-campus parties with alcohol, UA President Tyler Ernst, a senior in Engineering and Wharton said at a UA general body meeting in September.
The current alcohol policy makes it “very difficult” to throw social events with alcohol, he added.
Under the current alcohol policy, groups who wish to throw registered parties on campus must hire University-approved security guards and professional bartenders.
They must also create a competency plan for their first registered event, which should specify the activities, other than drinking, that will take place. In addition, an alcohol monitor unaffiliated with the event should ensure that underage drinking does not take place.
The alcohol culture at Penn is “pervasive,” Social Planning and Events Committee President Shana Rusonis said. The College senior added that she hopes changes to the alcohol policy would encourage students to “adapt an alcohol culture that is more moderate and more well-informed” over time.
SPEC’s annual Spring Fling is a registered event at which alcohol is not permitted, though Rusonis acknowledged that students often consume alcohol.
Ernst declined to comment on the ongoing investigation and did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
The UA would move forward by “redoubling” their advocacy initatives, he added.
Rusonis, who helped review the current alcohol policy, said costs associated with throwing registered parties often deter groups from registering their events.
Difficulties associated with registering on-campus parties often create an incentive for groups to throw unsupervised parties a few blocks away from campus, she said, adding that making it easier to register parties on campus may reduce the risks to students.
Current policy recommendations include reducing costs for groups who wish to register their events, she said. A rewards system for student groups that regularly register parties may also be introduced.