Campus community meets to discuss changes to alcohol policy sanctions

SGA President Ben Carrington explains proposed changes to the alcohol sanction policies. (Donald Halsing / THE GATEPOST)

The Student Affairs Governance Committee held an open forum to discuss FSU’s current alcohol policy and its sanctions April 9. 

There were four students in attendance. The majority of the audience members – students, faculty, and staff alike – were committee members themselves. 

Committee members in attendance included Director of Community Standards Jay Hurtubise, Dean of Students Meg Nowak Borrego, and Associate Dean of Academic Success LaDonna Bridges. 

According to Hurtubise, the committee decided to draft changes to the policy when they received feedback from students that it was too restrictive and the sanctions were too harsh.

Hurtubise said, “It was important to recognize that there was concern.” 

SGA President Ben Carrington introduced the current alcohol policy and the committee’s proposed changes. He and SGA Secretary Allie Flood also presented student feedback.

FSU’s “Alcohol Sanction Proposal Comparison Sheet” states the policy “highlights the importance of informed and responsible decision-making in the academic and social development of students.”

Current minimum sanctions for those involved in a first violation include restrictions from resident life, as well as from leadership activities. Sanctions also include disciplinary warnings, a residential review, an alcohol education and assessment program, and a letter home if under age 21. 

One of the proposed minimum sanctions separated “decorative containers” from other containers of alcohol. Although still categorized as a first violation, only a warning letter would be issued as opposed to complete minimum sanctions for a first violation.

Another proposed policy modification is the definition of “minimal disruption.” As stated in the proposed policy, “minimal disruption is the absence of FSUPD response, as well as the absence of violations [that] compound the egregiousness of the behavior.” 

Carrington said a major concern of the current policy is that it may be “inhibiting educational success.” 

Nowak Borrego also voiced her concern on this matter stating the committee is “really trying to focus on the educational component.”

However, Carrington added some aspects of the policy are out of the hands of committee members. For example,  a one-semester suspension from the University due to a third alcohol violation is a statewide policy and a higher education policy requirement. 

Using feedback from faculty and students, committee members said they have looked into making sure they are following “best practices.” Following in the footsteps of current college alcohol policies around the state, the committee has worked to ensure that students will not suffer academically or financially due to proposed sanctions. 

If caught in a third violation, suspended students will risk losing financial aid and scholarships. 

A major segment of policy changes is the modification of resident life restrictions. Current minimum sanctions call for a “one-week restriction from all resident halls.” 

The proposed minimum sanctions would shorten the duration of the restriction to a “two consecutive weekend resident life restriction.” This allows for students to be able to attend classes during the week, rather than having to find a place to live while also commuting to class.