Alcohol policy in dorms straightforward; students still violate
Cathy Warner said rooms that draw attention to themselves are often the ones that get in trouble for drinking.
If a resident is 21 or older, they are allowed to drink unless they are in a room that is not theirs with minors, said Calkins Hall Residence Hall Director Warner.
In the event of an alcohol bust, the RA staff collects information on people in the room and hands it over to the RHD, who then turns the information to the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities to pass judgment, she said.
“We certainly don’t go looking for trouble,” Warner said. “But if a room draws attention to itself, we have to check it out.”
If the room is being noisy or a roommate or someone else raises a concern, the staff has an ethical obligation to follow up.
Warner said alcohol incidents in her hall are rare.
“In any given year, I may have half a dozen alcohol situations,” she said. “If people have been consuming though, we want them to come back so we know they’re safe.”
A former RA who wished to remain anonymous, but will be referred to as Richard, said he agreed with Warner.
“If you’re in your room drinking and you’re quiet, we’ll probably never know, unless we smell alcohol or if a roommate says something,” he said.
Richard said students who have been drinking should be encouraged to come back to the halls, even if intoxicated.
“You should not be afraid to come back to your home just because you feel that you’re going to get in trouble or be reprimanded,” he said. “I want my residents home safe, not staying in a random apartment because they’re afraid to face me.”
But Richard said the policy bothered him.
“The policy is if there’s alcohol in the room, everybody there gets included in the report,” he said. “RAs go in and report the situation and the RHD makes the decision on what to do. I just don’t like the idea that everybody could get in trouble for it. You’ll get roommates that you don’t really know and that are pushy and stubborn, and for some people alcohol is uncomfortable. And to have a roommate that won’t get rid of it is not cool.”
Richard said that kind of situation puts the resident in a tight spot because they are uncomfortable, but do not want to get their roommates in trouble.
“One of the things I always hated about busting rooms was if one of the roommates wasn’t doing anything,” he said. “Sometimes they would be in their rooms alone on Facebook or reading, and I would have to include them in the report anyway.”
However, Warner said the OSRR can choose to find people not guilty.
“So, the policy isn’t technically that everyone gets into trouble,” she said.
A CMU sophomore, who lives in the dorms and asked to be called Lisa, had a close encounter with getting a violation this semester. She said her RA did her a favor by not writing her up.
“I’m on scholarship, so that’s why I live in the dorms, but if I get written up more than once I could lose it,” she said. “If my parents would have found out, I would have been in huge trouble. They pay for my schooling, so without them I would be screwed.”
Lisa said her RA gave her a major warning.
“She wants us to want to be here,” Lisa said. “She told us we can go out and drink and come back and be safe, but we can’t do it in the dorms. She told us we should have gotten in trouble, but I’m really glad we didn’t. Now we have to be good because we know we’re being watched.”
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