Canisius gets ready for alcohol amnesty

By Brandon Seltenrich

Griffin Reporter

Alcohol can be a tough topic to discuss on a college campus. The reality can’t be ignored that, although many of students on campus are productive, well-rounded students and responsible adults enrolled in a private Jesuit college, underage drinking takes place and can have vast, potentially detrimental effects on us. For the most part, even when drinking at parties and other social events, students here are trusted to conduct themselves in a manner that reflects positively upon themselves and the school. And for the most part, they do.

Although Canisius has a reputation for being a safe campus for students, other instances at schools around the country make it apparent that things can definitely go wrong with students and alcohol on college campuses. Canisius has never had a reported fatality from drinking on campus; however, that situation has happened elsewhere. To get ahead of things, maybe to try to strengthen the relationship between administration and students and encourage students to help themselves before it gets to that point, the school has begun the process of creating an Alcohol Amnesty policy.  Senate President Elias “Fenoose” Ayoub spoke on the subject in an Editor’s Roundtable discussion with The Griffin last week.

“That’s gonna happen[…],” said EVP Ayoub. “I met with Dr. Mangione and I drafted up a new sort of guideline for medical amnesty, and she’s working with Mark Piatkowski of Student Life[…] It’s gonna be an addendum to community standards this year.”

What, necessarily, would a policy for alcohol amnesty on campus look like? What would be the agreement between students and faculty, and who would be best served by the policy? To get a better idea of what we’re delving into with such a proposal, The Griffin took a closer look at how alcohol amnesty has affected other campuses around the country.

An amnesty policy is in place at one of the world’s premier universities, Harvard University.

“We realize that we’re in a college environment,” said a member of Harvard administration, as quoted in the Daily Beast, “and that people are going to abuse these things, and so we’re here to basically reduce the harm.”

When asked if a student would face consequences for turning to Harvard University Police for an alcohol-related problem, a Harvard alcohol peer advisor answered, “No.” When asked if there were any loopholes, they again answered, “No.”  Such a policy is also employed at Yale and other prestigious universities.

The effects of such policies at these universities have been enforced for the purpose of “crack[ing] down on underage drinking,” said the Daily Beast.

The Daily Beast went on to say, “[S]chools are trying to do with their alcohol policies what they do with their students: make them smarter.”

The results have been confusing, to say the least, as the Yale Daily News (as quoted by the Daily Beast) reports that, “The past year has seen a record number of alcohol-related hospitalizations.”  Whether the amnesty policy is achieving its goal of encouraging students to practice safer drinking habits is still unknown. However, the intended positive effects are still clear. President Ayoub said that, as for Canisius, the administration didn’t think that an amnesty policy “was a bad thing,” and instead felt “that maybe it wasn’t necessary in a school that didn’t really have active Greek life” and had no reported drinking fatalities. He went on to say that they agreed to “just get ahead of it.”

“[I]f that’s how we practice anyway,” said Ayoub, “it really wouldn’t matter to write it down and codify it.”

If other premier universities see it fit to employ an official Alcohol Amnesty policy, and the results are that students are turning to campus safety for the help that they need and are receiving such help, Ayoub says our school should do likewise.

“We’re gonna move forward with that and hopefully the addendum will be available for all students to read soon enough,” said President Ayoub.

Upon request to have some questions answered by the Canisius administration, Senior Associate Dean of Students Matt Mulville told The Griffin, “It is too soon to comment on the Amnesty Policy until we know more of the details…[We] hope that we will have more details by the end of the semester, but the process is taking longer because we are reviewing so many policies and we have had to develop several policies that don’t currently exist.” Hopefully this is a positive sign that makes out for a good, productive policy here on campus, but it is unfortunate that the School is thus far unwilling to talk to the student population about such a potentially important topic.

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