Tim Foster, dean of student affairs, made an appearance at this week's Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) meeting to address preliminary data from the recent NESCAC-wide alcohol survey administered in early March. The academic affairs committee also proposed providing new funds to students who exceed their printing allocations.
Of all nine of the NESCAC institutions that took part in the conference-wide survey—Amherst and Wesleyan did not partake—Bowdoin had the highest participation rate, with 78 percent of students filling out the questionnaire. Ideally, the survey will be distributed every four years to reevaluate policies based on a snapshot of the alcohol consumption culture within the NESCAC.
Despite having the lowest transport rate among peer institutions, Bowdoin and its drinking culture is still a matter of concern for College officials, according to Foster. He noted that though the administration has worked tirelessly to make the inevitable drinking culture on campus safer, it must be the students that initiate the change.
Having an alcohol-related death on campus "is probably the thing more than anything else that keeps me up at night," Foster said. Bowdoin's last fatality from alcohol consumption took place in 1996, during the College's fraternity era. Foster said that the key to making Bowdoin a safer place lies in ensuring that the students "learn about limits and excess so they don't end up in life-threatening situations."
Derek Brooks '12, BSG president, suggested that the duration of the weekend party scene on campus is perhaps correlated with higher transport rates. Registered parties that typically last for only two to three hours mean that students have only a relatively short period of time in which to consume alcohol.
"By 2 a.m. nearly everyone's already in bed. There's a very short time in which you're partying, and there's a lot to accomplish in that time," says Brooks.
A lack of "chem-light" events initiated by College Houses was another issue brought up, with the suggestion that it may contribute to a significant amount of the heavy drinking on campus. Generally speaking, College House affairs are either "chem" or "chem-free" with no in-between.
According to Max Staiger '13, inter-house council president, promoting events that are not centered around alcohol, however, do not commonly draw large crowds.
"I think you do see College Houses having these 'chem-light' events, but they're generally just for affiliates and for small groups. I think the issue is getting a crowd like you have at campus-wides to come to an event where drinking isn't the focus," said Staiger.
Once the results from the NESCAC drinking survey have been fully analyzed, the administration will be able to gauge drinking trends and practices seen at the College, compare them with those from peer schools, and implement the appropriate policies to reduce the number of alcohol-related incidents.
Following this, the academic affairs committee proposed a new printing allocation system that would allow students who are coming close to exceeding their printing budget to request more money for more paper.
Only 6 percent of the student body exceeded their printing allocation last year, noted Del Wilson, director of finance and campus services.
For those students that have print-heavy classes, such as music or history departments, the new proposal is geared toward providing a significantly less costly access to more paper.
Students who are granted access to these paper funds by the academic affairs subcommittee will be capped at 250 double-sided pages. Any additional prints approved by BSG will not carry from over one semester to the next.