UMass Amherst Plans Stricter Enforcement of Alcohol Sanctions Starting This Fall

AMHERST, Mass. - Jo-Anne Vanin, associate vice chancellor for student affairs and dean of students at the University of Massachusetts, has announced stricter, more consistent sanctions starting this fall for students who violate UMass''s alcohol policy.

The new policy separates on-campus violations into two tiers. One tier involves underage possession and/or consumption, or having open containers of alcohol in a public space. The other involves possession of a keg or large volume of alcohol, or dispensing alcohol to minors.

For underage possession/consumption or open container violations, housing probation and a two-hour alcohol education program are mandatory on the very first offense. The third such offense will result in removal from housing and restriction from the violator''s current residence hall for one year.

For the possession of a keg or large volumes of alcohol or dispensing alcohol to minors, the first offense will entail mandatory attendance in the Residential Education Alcohol Program (REAP) plus removal from housing or relocation and restriction from the current residence hall. The third offense will bring suspension from the University for one year.

"The University has a responsibility to implement policies to protect the rights of members of our community from the negative actions of those who abuse alcohol," Vanin said. "The abuse of alcohol can hinder a student''s academic performance, endanger their personal health, and negatively impact on the campus environment."

She emphasized that education is a major component of the stricter policy, noting that even first-time violators must take a two-hour alcohol education workshop that will discuss legal issues, University policies, consequences of alcohol abuse, and risks associated with abuse, and that some violators will have to enter REAP counseling after the first offense.

According to Paul Vasconcellos, assistant dean of students who chairs the Student Affairs Judicial Issues Committee that looked into on-campus alcohol use as part of the University''s Alcohol Task Force that met last fall, students were involved at all levels as the stricter policy evolved. "We had students on the committee and we discussed these proposals with the major undergraduate student governance groups during the spring semester," Vasconcellos said.

Vasconcellos also said a massive education effort is underway to inform students about the new policy. All new students were informed during summer orientation sessions, a letter is being sent to all students, Resident Assistants will discuss the policy at their floor meetings, announcements will be printed in the Daily Collegian, and a brochure will be distributed at numerous locations.