New drug, alcohol policy consolidated on campus

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CSUN consolidated several versions of its alcohol and drug policies into one official policy May 1, in order to make the rules as clear and comprehensive as possible.

According to William Watkins, vice president of Student Affairs, there had been numerous versions of the alcohol policy published in the Schedule of Classes, the CSUN catalog and at the Klotz Student Health Center.

“When we reviewed the old policies, we found that people had not worded things in the same way,” said Watkins. “The new policy incorporates a set of guidelines about what kind of criteria makes it allowable to authorize the use of alcohol.”

The policy, which applies to students, faculty and staff, states that “the use of alcohol or other legal drugs in a manner that undermines a campus climate of civility, collegiality, reasoned debate, and adherence to the policies contained herein is not consistent with the values of California State University, Northridge, and will not be tolerated.”

However, the policy lays out a set of guidelines under which the use of alcohol is permitted at certain school events. These guidelines include the presence of a designated “Responsible Event Representative” on-site at the event. At any location where alcohol is served, non-alcoholic beverages must also be served, and a “single event license” must be obtained. The license entails filling out a series of forms and getting administrative signatures at least 10 working-days before the event.

The Pub, located in the University Student Union, is permitted to sell alcohol because it has a liquor license and, according to Watkins, the area is “under proper supervision.” He also said similar locations are found on many college campuses.

While the subject of an alcohol and drug policy may conjure up the thought of campus-wide abuse, Watkins said this is not the case. He said that every two years, the school must conduct an evaluation. Over several years, the results have shown that alcohol and drug abuse have not been much of a problem on campus, Watkins said.

The Klotz Student Health Center runs an alcohol-related website called mostknow.com, which is aimed at informing students about drinking responsibly. It supports an idea called the “social norms theory,” which says social pressures may lead to people behaving in certain ways. In this case, if college students believe every other student drinks on a regular basis, it could lead them to believe they should do the same. Mostknow.com supports the theory about reversing the myth that every college student is a heavy drinker.

“I think it’d be a very worthwhile theory to try,” said Barbara Lazarus, CSUN sociology professor. “College-age drinking is almost a social norm in and of itself, so presenting an opposing social norm might help.”

Students agree that the theory is probably valid, but have mixed views about how effective it can be at this stage in a college student’s life.

“It’s the peer pressure thing,” said Katrina Veeh, freshman pre-cinema and television arts major. “If nobody else was going out of their way to (drink), I probably wouldn’t either.”

Marcos Sanchez, freshman political science major, said he feels that if he were raised to believe drinking was a bad thing, he probably would not drink the way he does now. He said that it is too late to try to reverse the social norm of drinking for students who are of college age.

“Americans have (loved) drinking since I don’t even know when,” said Sanchez. “In my family, we drink. We’re a family full of drinkers. If it was ingrained in me from an early age (that drinking was bad), I probably would not drink.”

All local, state and federal laws concerning alcohol, such as blood alcohol levels and minimum age laws are enforceable by the Department of Public Safety.