Group leaders debate monitoring of events

A recent hotel party attended by members of the Pakistani Students Association has other student organizations debating their responsibilities during off-campus events.

As long as (a party) is not sponsored by the (student organization).then it’s fine, said Maha El-Sheikh, co-president of the Arab Student Association. There’s no problem with that.

The hands-off policy many student groups practice when dealing with off-campus events may have serious repercussions students should consider, said Mike Gargano, assistant vice president of Student and Academic Support Services.

The University’s alcohol policy states that if a certain number of students from an organization are consuming alcohol together on or off campus, they are required to register the event with the University. Individual cases must be heard to determine whether enough students from an organization were present to hold a student group responsible.

Student groups that do not register events organized by group members risk losing University recognition, even if the event is not sponsored by the organization and is held off campus, Gargano said.

Any (student organization) that participates (in unregistered off-campus events) is in jeopardy, Gargano said.

While many leaders of registered organizations said they are aware that members of their organizations violate GW’s alcohol policy off campus, they said they were not aware that the organization could be held responsible for such functions.

Vik Bakhru, president of the Indian Student Association, said his organization has strict rules against promoting off-campus functions but does not regulate parties ISA members organize on their own.

It doesn’t make any sense that we would be held responsible for something we didn’t organize, Bakhru said.

Other leaders of student organizations around campus said they follow similar guidelines when members organize outside of officially sponsored events.

If a (College Republican) wants to have a party and his friends happen to be CRs, (the College Republicans) don’t have a problem with that, CR President Brad Murphy said.

Greek-letter organizations, which are regulated by the Interfraternity Council, are the only student groups on campus held to a strict definition of what constitutes a group activity, Associate Dean of Students Jan-Mitchell Sherill said.

The University has no set standard to determine the level of responsibility other student groups have for a specific event, Sherill said. Individual cases become judgement calls, he said.

Some student leaders said any policy that leaves the possibility of punishment for events organized outside the student group is unfair.

I think direct action needs to be taken to change that policy, Bakhru said.

Anjan Choudhury, president of the College Democrats, said he is aware of the University’s policy. Administrators have informed him that the University puts the policy to action in large, unregistered events clearly organized by a student group, he said.

If a student group leader can really honestly say they had no part in organizing (an off-campus event), then that does not fall in the area of responsibility, Choudhury said.

Gargano said student organizations get in trouble when they are dishonest about their participation in organizing or promoting off-campus events.

It’s when (student organizations) try to pull the wool over the University’s eyes when problems occur, Gargano said.

While Choudhury said it is unrealistic to hold student groups responsible for functions with a few members present, there should be more honesty about whether or not an organization did play a part in planning events.

Shweta Udeshi, president of the South Asian Society, said she understands the reasoning behind the alcohol policy but said the University could hurt organizations that try to help students if administrators hold to (the policy) hard and fast.

Unless an event is reported by the establishment where it took place, neighbors or the Metropolitan Police Department, the University does not normally find out about violations off campus, Walker said.

There’s a lot more off-campus parties and promoting than we know of, Gargano said.

The University does not expect to be notified of all off-campus events, but organizations will be held accountable for functions that draw attention to the University, Sherill said.

As long as they don’t call attention to themselves.I don’t think we ever know or have reason to know, Sherrill said.

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