Dear Lafayette students,
A vibrant social scene that organically develops among students after class and over the weekends is a space where friendships are deepened. Students who open their residence or reserve a space to gather with others in the community complement the many club, athletic, centrally-planned, and otherwise College-sponsored student activities. At the same time, it is fair to say everyone in this community shares a desire that this informal social scene remains safe.
Since the return to in-person learning, students have proven themselves to be good bystanders and taken advantage of the Good Samaritan Policy, calling for help for people who needed medical attention because they had too much to drink. Still, there are practices that pose heightened risk of harm or community disruption with the neighborhood. The limited number of reports/observations of central sources of alcohol including large jugs with unknown liquids as well as noise complaints or trash in the yard are instances that, while isolated, still need to be fine-tuned into more appropriate practice. This creates an opportunity for administration to work together with students to ensure a more safe and still vibrant social scene.
Over the summer, Lafayette College received a grant from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board to advance several initiatives that will enhance safety. This includes education around alcohol for students who are becoming of legal drinking age through a nationally-recognized program, TIPS. Formerly a requirement for rising seniors to live off-campus, the TIPS training is now an expectation for everyone in the junior class. The training will better equip upperclass students to be more informed hosts of social gatherings with greater education about alcohol, social host liability, and double-down the importance of contacting lifelines for help in a crisis.
A contemporary trend among more and more peer liberal arts colleges, particularly in Pennsylvania, has been the establishment of a notification/registration process for large events with alcohol. In the 2021-2022 academic year, the Dean of Students Office conducted a benchmark assessment of peers and reviewed standards expected to enhance safety on respective campuses. A draft events with alcohol policy was shared with the Faculty Committee on Student Life and Student Government for feedback.
Starting Oct. 1, students hosting social gatherings with 20 or more guests and where alcohol is present will be required to notify appropriate offices through submission of a form on Our Campus. The key questions to ask for whether to submit a form are 1) if there will likely be more than 20 guests present and 2) if alcohol will be present. If both questions are answered, yes, a form would be completed; if either/both answers are, no, then you would not need to complete the form. The form includes helpful reminders for how to enhance safety, requests contact information for hosts, and triggers a follow-up email with reminders about the local noise ordinance and trash code expectations for being good neighbors. When events occur students l should conform to all expectations that already exist in the Student Handbook. If there is an issue, there is now a contact in the listed hosts, who may be called to address any concerns in the moment. This is what working together and building trust looks like. Through education, sharing information, and reinforcing good social host and good neighbor practices, this community can have a vibrant social life and a safer one.
As an incentive for role modeling good practices, Student Life will match grant funds to offer up to 30 free “party packs” of food (valued at $100-$200 each) per year, for the next two years; eating before and while drinking is a good practice and one element we hope students will emulate even after the next couple years.
Student Life recognizes that for Fraternity/Sorority organizations, registering events is not new, but for many students who host large gatherings on or off-campus, this will be new. This is an opportunity for all of us to take a more active and responsible role in hosting safer events and better prepare students to be more informed, responsible hosts and neighbors post-graduation. There will no doubt be many questions on nuances (and what exactly are in these party packs?). In the coming weeks, I will host lunch-hour tastings in the Farinon Atrium of various food packages that will be provided across campus and of course answer questions.
Talk to you soon and see you at the community tastings!
Brian Samble, Ph.D.
Dean of Students