Recently, under the recommendation of the Harm Reduction Committee, the Committee on Student Life approved several changes to Grinnell College’s alcohol policy.
According to the revised policy, common-source mixed drinks with hard liquor, such as punch bowls, or “jungle juice,” will no longer be allowed at college-registered parties. Moreover, drinks with hard liquor must be measured in front of students.
The Task Force on Safety, Responsibility, and Prevention first proposed this change. Appointed by President Raynard Kington, the group, according to its webpage, aims to “propose a concrete program for our campus to prevent sexual misconduct, alcohol abuse and violence, all of which have been found to be tightly related.”
In the course of their discussion with the Harm Reduction Committee, the group pointed out that it is difficult to engage in harm reductive drinking practices if students are unaware of the alcohol content in their drinks. Jennifer Jacobsen ’95, Wellness Director and Co-chair of the Harm Reduction Committee, hopes that the new measures will enable students to drink more responsibly.
“Hopefully this will give our students an opportunity to make informed choices about how many drinks they are consuming in a given amount of time,” Jacobsen said. “It’s hard to encourage students to keep track of their number of drinks or set a limit if they have no idea of how much they are drinking. There’s a lot of evidence to support the fact that students who do end up with a really high [blood alcohol content] and end up having to be transported to the hospital oftentimes seem to be the result of a lot of hard alcohol.”
Grinnell is currently one of only four colleges in the nation that allow hard alcohol to be served on the college campus. Whereas the other three require that third-party servers such as licensed bartenders from outside campus serve alcohol, Grinnell’s policy allows for students to host and serve at events under the stipulation that all servers and at least one host must be TIPS-trained (Training for Intervention Procedures).
“There should still be alcohol agreements available for hard alcohol, but again with a rule where a server is making the drinks and handing out the drinks, so that the students consuming them have an opportunity to pay attention to the number of drinks they are consuming,” Jacobsen added.
In addition to this, the changes require for ACE Security to be present at any event where there is an alcohol agreement. SGA has agreed to bear the additional cost associated with this.
“Alcohol contracts only need to be present only where alcohol is being distributed—so, if there is a keg or a significant amount of alcohol which isn’t for just personal consumption,” said Natalie Richardson Gentil ’14, ACE Coordinator. “So, in those cases, where you would need an alcohol contract, now you would also need ACE Security there.”
There are various parties on campus where common-source hard liquor plays a significant role. One such party is “Erotic Deception,” which has been thrown by the tennis team for years.
“We understand that this rule makes sense,” said a member of the tennis team. “We have jungle juice in our party and you don’t know how much is in it; you don’t even know what is in it … So we understand the rule, but it’s just unfortunate for us because this party has been a tennis team tradition for 20 years … this particular mixed drink is very central to the party.”
Given that this party is a long-standing tradition, the team does not plan to cancel it this year or to serve a different drink in its place.
“We can’t just not serve the drink because that’s the whole point of the party. So, we have to sit back and talk to some alums and figure out what we want to do,” the tennis player said. “It’s something that’s not just our decision. We have to talk to 20 years of alums to [reach] a compromise if we ever want to do a campus-wide party again.”
The possibility of parties with common-source mixed drinks moving off-campus may be a source of alarm for some. However, the Harm Reduction Committee and the off-campus Hall Wellness Coordinator, Samantha Schwartz ’14, have been reaching out to off-campus residents about risk-minimization while hosting parties.
“Our off-campus HWC is a ready resource for such information, and she and I are collaborating with the Division of Student Affairs and the Grinnell Police Department to offer more outreach for our off-campus residents,” Jacobsen wrote in an e-mail to the S&B.