Admins talk alcohol policy, school shooting procedures

(Administrators listen to student concerns. Photo by Amanda Martin.)

Members of FSU’s administration and SGA, as well as other staff and students, met in the Alumni Room to discuss campus concerns during the semi-annual Administrators’ Forum on March 1.

Among the concerns discussed were the current policy regarding the consumption of alcohol on campus and procedures for active-shooter situations.

Students in attendance at the meeting – including Student Trustee Karl Bryan, who posed the initial question – asked administrators whether the alcohol policy was due for any changes.

Bryan said he understands FSU’s alcohol policy does not designate FSU as a “dry campus,” but rather as a campus with “dry residence halls.” He said taking advantage of this section of the policy by serving alcohol at events in non-residence hall buildings, such as the McCarthy Center, would improve the quality of and turnout for campus events.

He added, “It would allow for more engagement for the campus community. I think it would be a good boost for recruitment for incoming students.”

President F. Javier Cevallos said he and other administrators, including Lorretta Holloway, vice president for enrollment and student development, as well as Glenn Cochran, associate dean of students and director of Residence Life, formed a group to look at the specifics of the alcohol policy.

Cevallos said the group was formed in response to previous student concerns brought to his attention. He and Holloway agreed the issue was relevant and necessary to review.

Holloway said a professional writing class this semester, in which students worked on a project regarding the “dry campus” policy, asked the group of administrators for their opinions.

Holloway, Cevallos and Cochran said they closely reviewed the Ram Handbook to familiarize themselves with the specifics of all campus policies regarding alcohol. Holloway said Cochran, who completed his Ph.D. dissertation on college student drinking, would have beneficial input on the possible formation of a new policy.

Cevallos said, “Alcohol for events is a little more complicated because we don’t have an alcohol license. The city has to approve it.”

He added, “It’s not an easy thing.”

Holloway said ultimately, the policy and all its facets – including off-campus consumption of alcohol – is under “close review.”

She added, however, “I don’t want people to think you’re going to come back in the fall and it’s going to be completely different, and it’s going to be like Bourbon Street or something. But everything is on the table.”

Another issue brought up by many students at the meeting was if the University was whether the school has any procedure in place to respond to school shootings. The students said their concerns were sparked by recent national events such as the mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

SGA Senator Kirsten Hoey said in her four years at FSU, she has not yet heard of any specific policy or procedure in the event of a school shooting. “It would be important that we have something in place even though it’s something that’s, you know, probably not going to happen, but still could,” she said.

FSUPD Chief of Police Brad Medeiros expressed surprise at Hoey not having heard of any procedures. “We’ve had a lot of programs in the last four years,” Medeiros said of active-shooter trainings.

“Last year, we had six to eight programs that we offered out,” he added. “I will say that the audience participation was very low. On the student side, we had four students show up. On the faculty and staff side, we had 14 show up.”   

Medeiros said the FSUPD section of the University website has a page on safety training in the case of an active-shooter incident.

Hoey said the lack of attendance could be attributed to a “publicity issue.

“It’s great if it is happening, but if people aren’t actually attending it or hearing about it, then I think that’s where the problem lies,” she said.

Medeiros said, “If the student body hasn’t had the opportunity to attend, I think we should work around that. It’s really important that they know what’s going on, that they know what the police response will be.”

Holloway said she was one of the attendees at a training and asked Hoey how she would suggest the University and FSUPD increase student turnout for such trainings, noting their importance. “It’s rare, but it’s a major traumatic event,” she said of an active-shooter situation.

Holloway noted possible problems that could arise from methods of notifying students, such as not reading the emails sent out by administrators. She also said if the University holds trainings during orientation, they would not benefit the students who do not go to orientation.

Another problem Holloway brought up was what the “appropriate time” is to train students on how to escape from an active shooter situation. “It’s, well, ‘Welcome to Framingham State! Now we’re going to teach you how to escape from a shooter.’”

Hoey said the training could be incorporated into the required Foundations course “because all freshmen have to take Foundations.”

SGA Secretary Bridget Green said, “I think this is also something that should be implemented into campus-wide SDA training and RA training. I know RAs are here three weeks before the [fall] semester begins, and we do go over a lot of information. I think most of what it is is policy and procedure. We do a lot of Title IX. But I think that is something that should 110 percent be necessary for SDAs and RAs.”

[Editor’s note: Multiple members of The Gatepost’s editorial board have completed Framingham State Resident Assistant training and were instructed about how to respond to an active-shooter situation.]

Green added, “One of my biggest fears working desk and being an RA is if someone comes through that door and I’m the first person they see – what do I do? And how do I react to that situation?”

She said having a full day of training with campus police would be “incredibly beneficial.”

Other concerns included aging gym equipment. Several students, including SGA President Kyle Rosa and Senate Chair Mike O’Brien, said many pieces of cardio equipment are non-functional but still take up “very valuable space in the gym.”

O’Brien added the non-functional units should be cleared out to make room for “other activities.”

Executive Vice President Dale Hamel and other administrators said this was the first time they were hearing about this problem.

Hamel said, “Those are $18,000 pieces of equipment. They were all bought at the same time, and unfortunately, all age at the same time.” He added he would get a report back from the Athletic Center on the specific number of broken equipment.

Patricia Whitney, assistant vice president of facilities, asked if people were reporting damaged and non-functional equipment to Facilities. “We don’t know if people don’t tell us,” she said.

Millie González, interim chief officer of diversity, inclusion and community engagement, spoke briefly about the racial hate crimes last semester and echoed other administrators’ sentiments that students continue to reach to them.

“It’s so important to keep the conversation going,” González said.