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Senate Proposes AOD Policy Changes

Senate unanimously moved April 26 to begin a process of revisions on the procedure to decide consequences for students who are caught violating Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) violations. The proposal, which will require review by Reed’s Community Affairs Committee as well as approval by Reed faculty and a Student Body referendum before it can be enacted, would formally codify and streamline the AOD implementation system. It would also create an AOD Review Panel for adjudicating offenses and give Senate control over changes to it, a power currently held by the college President.

The proposal would create a five-level system for addressing violations, beginning with optional informal discussion, then moving to mandatory mediation with a Residence Director followed by mandatory mediation with the Dean of Student Services, and ending with a review of the case by the proposed AOD Review Panel. The panel would include a student member of the Judicial Board, a faculty member of the Drug and Alcohol Committee, and the Dean of Student Services or a designee, and would have the capacity to recommend sanctions to be approved by the college President or send cases on to the system’s fifth and final level, trial by the Judicial Board.

This replaces the current system, where students facing AOD violations are offered a number of optional and informal mediations before the case proceeds to JBoard, the first mandatory level.

The proposed system was designed primarily with the goal of making the process surrounding AOD implementation more clear to all parties involved. Dean of Student Services Mike Brody, speaking before Senate, said that students are largely unaware of procedures and consequences surrounding AOD violations, and that Community Safety Officers are sometimes unsure of how to treat individual cases in the absence of a general code. The extant honor process is “broken,” Brody said, who argued that “students need to be able to trust CSOs to do exactly what they say they’re going to do,” said Brody. He further stated that stricter codification was the most important step that could be taken to improve student-CSO relations.

The proposal would also lighten the workload of JBoard. “Having an AOD panel gives JBoard more time to focus on other essential cases and takes some of the weight off of their already pressed shoulders,” said Senator John Iselin ’14. JBoard members work an estimated 20 hours per week, with co-chairs logging an estimated 30 hours per week at a job rated among the highest for emotional burden.

Brody emphasized that the proposal would not lead to stricter sanctions for any given offense, and that consequences would still be evaluated on a case-by-case basis according to relevant variables. Recommended outcomes described in the text of the proposal include “a referral to counseling or treatment resources, a behavioral expectations contract with the student stipulating specific responses to continued behavior, and/or community service work designed to help restore the relationship with the community.”

Senator Ari Galper ’14 and Treasurer Paul Messick ’15 described initial reluctance with the plan, citing concerns that sanctions would be less sensitive to particularities of individual cases and that student trust of Community Safety would decreased as a result of the stricter codification. However, they agreed to send the proposal to Community Affairs Committee out of willingness to work within the proposal. “If we participate in the process, the students are going to get a voice,” said Galper after the meeting.

The proposal also delineates definitions of “serious” and “minor” AOD offenses: “Serious” offenses include possession or use of hard drugs and prescription drugs, distribution of alcohol to minors, possession of distribution quantities or actual distribution of illegal drugs, and tampering with smoke detectors. “Minor” offenses include underage consumption of alcohol and possession with intent to use or use of non-serious illegal drugs.

Offenders would start at level one for their first minor offense. The proposal recommended that they move up one level for each subsequent minor offense, though this would also be treated on a case-by-case system, under the discretion of the Dean of Student Services. The Dean of Student Services would also determine what level would be appropriate to start at in the case of offenders charged with serious offenses.

Senate’s proposed changes to the AOD policy can be found here.

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