By Meredith Jarchow
Administration is taking a special interest in alcohol consumption on campus.
The Alcohol Task Force 2.0 is a faculty led task force that purpose is to reduce high-risk alcohol use on and off-campus. The task force first met in April of 2016, and the co-chairs CSB Dean of Students Jody Terhaar and SJU Dean of
Students Mike Connolly presented the task force to the St. Ben’s and St. John’s Senates during Wednesday’s Joint Senate meeting. Even though the task force has met multiple times, this was the first public announcement of the task force and its initiatives.
The first Alcohol Task Force was formed in the spring of 1996 due to alcohol issues during Senior Farewell. The task force eventually morphed into what is now the Health and Wellness Committee. Since the committee now covers a wide umbrella of health-related issues, Terhaar says that the 2.0 task force will work to focus on some of the high-risk student behaviors specifically surrounding
“[The Alcohol Taskforce 2.0] is by no means about eliminating alcohol on our campus, or telling students that are legal to consume alcohol that they can’t. There is no initiative to become a dry campus,” Terhaar said. “It really is about making sure that as much as possible that students who are choosing to use alcohol are doing so in a responsible way, that way we can begin to
reduce the negative consequences that are concerning.”
The task force hopes to accomplish goals for four broad areas within the alcohol culture on campus: access and availability, party culture, enforcement and sanctioning and social norms reeducation.
Access and Availability
The defining goal of the access and availability of alcohol is to “reduce access and decrease availability of alcohol for all students on and off campus,” according to the task force presentation given by Connolly and Terhaar. Interventions the task force hopes to take are reducing the number of campus events where alcohol is available, establishing and strengthening substance-free housing areas at CSB and SJU and working with the city of St. Joseph and local bars to restrict happy hours and price promotions, as well as enforcing the social host ordinance.
“This is the first year in my eight years [of being mayor] that we’ve actually heard a significant uptick in residents calling and actually residents attending council meetings to complain [about student residents],” St. Joseph Mayor Rick Schultz said. “I can’t say that it’s alcohol related…but I would bet my bottom dollar that the most disruptive behavior issues we have, that alcohol is the source of that activity.”
Schultz said that the CSB and SJU Senates will be attending the city council meeting on Monday, Nov. 6 to discuss the alcohol issues in St. Joseph.
During the meeting, CSB and SJU senators asked questions about the extent that alcohol would be limited at on campus events. They expressed concerns that students who do practice responsible drinking habits would be affected negatively.
“I feel like [Brother Willie’s Pub] is meant to be a pub, and that’s why we have it as a pub still,” Trustee Eichten said in response to limiting alcohol at on campus events.
The Alcohol Task Force 2.0 also aims to increase the safety on and off campus by combatting the assumed party culture on campus. During the presentation, Terhaar spoke about new strategies to combat sexual assault at parties.
Lacey Solheid, Associate Director of Programming and Orientation and a member of the Alcohol Task Force 2.0, has worked previously at other institutions and said that there are issues with the party culture on campus.
“I hope to see some change come to campus,” Solheid said. “It’s very evident to me that there’s a clear culture of alcohol on campus and in some ways I hope that we could change that.”
Enforcement and Sanctioning
Terhaar and Connolly also spoke about how the task force hopes to clear up any confusion about current enforcement and sanctioning of alcohol policies. One of the goals is to make the policy easy to access and understandable for students.
Terhaar also commented on inconsistencies of the enforcement of policies at each of the separate campuses.
“We really need to build competency in all of those who are charged with the responsibility of enforcing alcohol policy, from student RAs and CAs to FRs, RDs and area coordinators,” Terhaar said during the presentation.
Social Norms Reeducation
Another issue the task force hopes to tackle is the social norms on campus. According to Connolly and Terhaar there are misconceptions about the social norms on campus which can lead to high-risk behavior. They hope to address this through reeducation such as skills training.
“We have a lot of interventions which are going to affect all different groups on campus,” Connolly said. “Whether it be staff, faculty or alum and parents, we’ll do that with both skills training, mailings and other campus-wide communication.”
What skills training will consist of was not explained in detail.
Student Alcohol Task Force
In addition to the faculty-led task force there is also a student alcohol task force. The group met for the first time on Thursday, Oct. 26. Solheid is one of the facilitators for the group and says that the task force is representative of students in the athletic department, housing, student senates and various other departments.
“This is something that we need the buy-in from the staff, faculty, students, the administration, the city. We need to all function as one unit so I think it’s something that we all need to work together to address,” Solheid said. “We’re all kind of in this together.”
CSB junior and St. Ben’s Senator Libby Grygar is serving on the student task force. Grygar says that the student task force is reactionary to the administrative task force.
“It’s not that we’re doing policy,” Grygar said. “[The student task force] is helping them figure out how they should go about implementing [policy] or telling people about it.”
One of the goals of the task force is to eliminate alcohol at Joint Events Council (JEC) sponsored events, which has already been accomplished.
Terhaar hopes that the narrative around alcohol culture at CSB/SJU will change with the help of the task force.
“The other concerning thing for me to hear [at the St. John’s Senate open forum] was how many people expressed a fear that changing the alcohol culture changes the community here,” Terhaar said. “I would hope that the community we have is about so much more than alcohol.”
This article was contributed to by Sean Kelly, Managing Editor for The Record.