University clarifies alcohol policy

Student groups must refrain from using funds appropriated by Student Academic and Support Services when purchasing alcohol for events, according to a University memo Sept. 14.

The change affects graduate students and undergraduates, which some students said is unfair.

Student Bar Association President Nathan Hale Williams said virtually 100 percent of the people in GW Law School are over the age of 21. Williams said graduate students are different from undergraduates and therefore should not face the same rules.

“I think, generally, the alcohol policies are inadequate for graduate programs,” Williams said.

Graduate Sen. Jeff Baxter (at large) said he does not see the issue as one between graduate students and undergraduates. He said the issue of having alcohol at events involves the age difference between people who can and cannot drink legally. As long as student leaders respect the law and University rules, they should be allowed to spend funds any way they like, Baxter said.

Williams said graduate events attract professional guests who expect to enjoy wine and other alcoholic beverages. The Student Bar Association will not be affected by the rule change because members use other funds to purchase alcohol, Williams said.

Vice President of SASS Mike Gargano, who wrote the memo, said he fears alcohol is becoming the main focus of some student events.

“I don’t want to be a part of that,” he said.

In the memo, he wrote that funds previously used to purchase alcohol can be re-appropriated to the creation and implementation of additional programming.

Gargano said student groups can use funds obtained elsewhere to purchase alcohol as long as event organizers follow Substance Abuse and Prevention Center procedures and register the event according to University policy.

Baxter said SASS should not dictate how student groups spend money.

He said he agreed alcohol should not be the focus of an event but can serve as a complement to some social functions. He cited a graduate orientation in the School of Business and Public Management, at which alcohol was served in addition to various snacks. He said alcohol was not the focus and served as a nice addition to the gathering.

Baxter said he is surprised administrators do not think student leaders are capable of purchasing alcohol for events even though the University offers alcoholic beverages for some of its events.

“I think student leaders certainly can be, and have been, trusted to make these decisions,” he said.

When allocating funds, the Student Association Finance Committee did not consider paying for alcohol at student events, Finance Chair and undergraduate Sen. David Burt (at large) said.

For student groups who do not get much money, spending on alcohol might be a waste, he said. Burt said Gargano’s memo was more of a clarification than a change.

“(Alcohol) is not the purpose of SA funds,” Burt said.

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