Alcohol policy release postponed
Ernst: 'A few new group leaders need to be brought on board'
March 30, 2012, 5:18 pm · Updated April 2, 2012, 2:46 am·
The Undergraduate Assembly did not vote on a resolution supporting changes to Penn’s alcohol policy on Sunday as originally planned.
“It has become apparent over the past week that a few new group leaders need to be brought on board and given the opportunity to voice their opinions on the state of the recommendations,” UA President and Engineering and Wharton senior Tyler Ernst said.
Ernst declined to say which group leaders or specific concerns with the draft prompted the delay.
The UA announced last week that it would suspend regular parliamentary procedure to vote on the resolution yesterday — the last general body meeting before newly elected students begin their positions on the UA. This final meeting is typically reserved as a time during which no new business is conducted.
Ernst — along with UA representatives, other student leaders from across campus and University administrators — has been sitting on Penn’s Alcohol Policy Review Committee since August to help draft a series of proposed revisions to the University’s alcohol policy.
The revisions come in response to student concerns that the current alcohol policy makes it too “expensive, restrictive or otherwise too burdensome” to have alcohol at registered social events, Ernst wrote in the UA’s 2011 annual report.
The committee was initially scheduled to release its recommendations in November 2011.
“I’ve been pushing to get it done by April 1. That’s been the goal since the beginning, as there are a lot of people with vested interest about getting it done by the end of the semester,” Ernst said. “However, if we need to take another month to get it done properly, then that’s exactly what we’re going to do.”
College junior and Interfraternity Council President David Shapiro, who joined the Alcohol Policy Review Committee after being elected IFC president in December, said the committee is dealing with a “very complicated issue.”
“We have to be mindful of laws, state and federal regulations, school regulations and liabilities,” he said. “To do something right is going to take time. I can only ask for people’s patience in this process.”
College junior and Medical Emergency Response Team Chair Daniel Spielman, who joined the committee in January, agreed.
“Right now, the committee is really taking the time to make sure that all the various stakeholders on campus agree with the recommendations being made, so that once they do pass, they can actually be implemented,” he said. “If we rush through without consulting certain parties, it will likely backfire.”
College junior and Panhellenic Council Vice President of Risk Management Lakshmi Sivaguru, who also sits on the committee, said there has been positive feedback from the administration about the committee’s progress so far.
She added that “with the UA turnover, it might take a while for everyone to be caught up to speed, but it will allow more pairs of eyes to look at this policy and ensure we’ve dotted all our ‘I’s’ and crossed our ‘T’s.”
“Would I like to see it get passed sooner rather than later? Absolutely. But we only have one shot with the administration,” he said. “If we are going to do this, we’re going to do this right. It’s more about the end result.”
Ernst hopes the incoming UA executive board will continue to make the alcohol policy a central issue.
“I plan on the alcohol policy being a very big part of our executive board transition process,” he said. “It will be up to the new president and the new body to determine whether this makes it onto the UA’s agenda, but I would hope that they would make this a top priority, because this is something that students really care about.”