The dangers of drinking at CI

It is not uncommon for incoming freshmen to drink during their first nights as college students in Foggy Bottom, but many students do not seem clear on the consequences of their actions at Colonial Inauguration.

Technically, the penalties for drinking at CI and during the academic year are the same, but the University can, and has in the past, expelled CI participants on the spot.

“Drinking (at CI) happens,” said Krista Auchenbach, a former Cabinet member. “Obviously the University isn’t thrilled about it, but the same rules apply as during the academic year – from CI to Commencement.”

Auchenbach, who was on the Cabinet in 2005, said when she spoke with students at CI, she tried to give them all the facts about drinking on campus.

“Students are going to make their own decisions on whether or not to drink. (Colonial) Cabinet tried to make this as informed a decision as possible,” Auchenbach said.

Tara Woolfson, director of Student Judicial Services, said it is hard to quantify how many students drink at CI. She said that students drink “probably more than we know during CI.”

She added that freshmen should remember that once their tuition deposit is sent to GW, they are officially students.

“The Code of Conduct applies immediately once students send in their deposit and accept the offer of admission,” Woolfson said.

Disciplinary probation is often the punishment for underage drinking at GW. If it is a chronic offense the student could face removal from housing. Woolfson added that students at CI could face much stricter punishment.

“An offer of admission can absolutely be rescinded,” Woolfson said.

Renee Clement, former director of Colonial Inauguration and current associate vice president for Student and Academic Support Services, said each drinking violation at CI is judged on a case-by-case basis.

“I do remember one student’s offer of admission being rescinded … as a result of (his) actions at CI,” Clement said. “There have been other cases where the student was permitted to attend, but had other sanctions as a result of the offense.”

Woolfson said each summer, several students are faced with sanctions because of alcohol. “There aren’t tons of cases,” she said. “One to two – max – per summer, which includes all five CIs.”

University Police Chief Dolores Stafford said her officers do not necessarily look out for freshmen drinkers during CI, but they do make regular patrols.

“We do not target people who are drinking, but we patrol the campus and we deal with incidents where people are violating GW policies and/or the law, when appropriate,” Stafford said.

Upon arriving at CI, incoming students are required to sign a statement that holds them accountable to the GW Code of Conduct when they are on campus, and there are many pre-arranged discussions for freshmen devoted to alcohol. University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg also discusses alcohol in his speech to students and parents.

Woolfson added that she is aware of recognized and unrecognized fraternities that hold parties during CI. Student organizations hosting parties with alcohol and underage drinkers would be held accountable as well, she added.

“Providers would get in the most trouble,” Woolfson said.

John Galmiche, president of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity, said parties at CI blur the line between recognized and off-campus fraternities.

“Parties at CI are a perfect example of people who confuse on-campus fraternities with (those not recognized by the Inter-Fraternity Council). On-campus fraternities do not, consciously, host parties during CI.”

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