In response to the important updates to the Student Handbook, the Student Government Association has been working tirelessly to find alternatives to the increased sanctions enacted at the beginning of this semester. We have presented three forms of legislation proposing changes to the policies. Our main incentive in addressing the updates to the Student Handbook is in the severity of the sanction in terms of the monetary amount of the fine and the immediate suspension of housing privileges for at least one semester. The current sanctions could cause a host(s) to be in a serious financial crisis dependent on their financial circumstance and/or to be in serious jeopardy if they have no other place to live but campus. We are requesting that the severity of the sanctions be revisited to reflect the degree at which the gathering of interest put other students in danger. We suggest this be done by considering the number of people that exceeded occupancy limit, along with the other inappropriate conditions that were present at that gathering.
SGA is proposing that the monetary amount of the fine for the first violation under the Sanctions for Hosting a Gathering with Alcohol be determined on a $200-$300 range by the conditions present at the gathering. We suggest that the number of people that exceed occupancy limits at that gathering not be taken into account for the Sanctions for Hosting a Gathering with Alcohol fine. If the gathering exceeds occupancy limits, the host(s) will receive an additional fine based on our proposed legislation for the Social Gathering Policy. For the Social Gathering Policy, we proposed a system of which the monetary amount of the fine is determined on a $100-$250 scale, dependent on if the gathering exceeded occupancy limits by under 2X, under 3X or 4X and over. The intention of this legislation is to change policies in the Student Handbook so that each host(s) will not receive a minimum of a $500 for every gathering that is subject to a violation under the Sanctions for Hosting a Gathering with Alcohol Policy. Under our recommended changes, a host(s) can receive a maximum fine of $550 for a first violation under the Sanctions for Hosting a Gathering with Alcohol policy, and this will punish the harshest offenders of the policy, but keep in mind that the minimum monetary amount of the fine is $500 with the current policies.
The third form of legislation was to have it explicitly state, under the Sanctions for Hosting a Gathering with Alcohol policy, that if there is a gathering in alcohol allowed housing of which all members are 21 or older, and the only inappropriate condition(s) present is that the number of persons exceeds the occupancy limits and/or a noise violation (after first warning), the host(s) should not receive a violation under the Sanctions for Hosting a Gathering with Alcohol. Instead, the host should only receive a violation for the Social Gathering Policy. The third piece of legislation was approved by the President’s Cabinet and will be incorporated into the Student Handbook.
The high-risk drinking and drug use culture on campus cannot be changed by punishing students into good behavior. In order to make a change we need to stimulate conversations about what is causing this bad behavior to occur. Our suggestion for Ramapo College is to transform the high-risk drinking culture on campus by working with SGA, students, faculty and staff in educating students on the dangers of abusing alcohol and other drugs. Instead of increasing fines, we encourage Ramapo to consider incorporating community service into the violation for the Sanctions for Hosting a Gathering with Alcohol Policy. This would be a serious deterrent for students to violate alcohol policies, can incorporate an educational component and it does not have potential to put students in a financial crisis.
We understand that the updates to the Student Handbook were only enacted a few months ago, and that its effectiveness will be determined by analyzing statistics from surveys, retention rates, number of violations and so on from this semester. From our standpoint as students, statistics that gauge community life on campus do not compare to our personal experience of being a part of the Ramapo Community. The human ability to perceive the overall moral of a community gives a deeper understanding than statistics can provide. Our argument does not stem from stats, but from witnessing the dwindling engagement of Ramapo students in the community and from the overwhelming number of students who approach us with concerns about the recent policy changes. We are passionate about addressing the high-risk drinking and drug use issue on campus through education, not severity of sanctions, but we need more student support.
We encourage students to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions, concerns or ideas or come to our office at SC 223 (next to J.Lee’s) or attend our general meeting this Tuesday, April 7 at 1 p.m. in Friends Hall. Ramapo College’s mission statement is to prepare students for a lifetime of achievement. Help us fulfill that mission by transforming our campus culture rather than initiating sanctions.