A few times this semester, Skidmore students have received requests to share their opinions on the current Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) policy, here at Skidmore. The first request came in the form of an email from Jennifer McDonald, Director of Health Promotions. McDonald asked that students attend an open forum on Jan 29 so they could voice their opinion heard on the future of the AOD policy. The second request came a few weeks later, and this time students were urged to fill out a survey on their opinions on the AOD policy.
“We were disappointed that the turnout to the open forum was really low ’cause [sic] that was a great opportunity we would have had to chat with students, and very few people actually came,” said McDonald. Though attendance might have been low at the open forum, so far about 400 students have filled out the survey.
“We review the policy continually and then every five years or so it is time for a really thorough look at it and sort of an overhaul,” said McDonald. The last time the policy went under a thorough review was five years ago.
McDonald wrote in an email to the students that, “the AOD Task Force is currently reviewing the College’s alcohol and other drug policies and procedures with a goal of launching a new policy at the start of the fall, 2015 semester.” They are currently working on what exactly these changes will entail.
“This is our semester where we are actually drafting a new policy. Towards the end of the semester we will have opportunities for students to actually give feedback before we actually go live with the policy,” said McDonald. With this in mind, the exact changes to the policy are unknown, but those working on the new policy do have some clear goals for it. “We want the policy to have harm reduction framework. So, basically an aim towards minimizing risks. So, if students are going to engage in these behaviors there is a way to do it in safer ways and ways that is higher risk [sic]. So we want our policy to catch that,” McDonald said. Other goals include wanting the amnesty policy to be really clear, and something that is well utilized and understood by students.
With the changes to the policy, McDonald said, “We want basically a community of care and responsibility. Where people look out for one and another. Where help seeking is encouraged and students feel comfortable doing that.”
“We are a little limited [in what we can do] because we are a part of the United States, so we have to function under state and federal laws, but there is ways that we can do that [sic] and still make [the policy] feel fair and reasonable, and harm reduction based,” said McDonald.
In an interview, McDonald also talked about how they are hoping to put something together that feels fair to students. In hopes of doing this, McDonald really wants students to know that “we are taking everything under consideration. We really want to know what students are thinking.”
All things considered McDonald stated that, “I just want it to be a safe community for students. I am hoping the policy can help us to get there.”