College administrators defend new Homecoming alcohol policy

By Amy Hecht and John P. Donohue
Vice President for Student Affairs and Vice President for College Advancement

As co-chairs of the Homecoming Steering Committee, we appreciated last week’s thoughtful editorial in The Signal about the modification to the alcohol policy for Homecoming 2016. We think it is important to address some of the questions raised by further contextualizing the rationale for this change.

The welfare of our students is paramount in everything we do at TCNJ. This is reflected in our comprehensive anti-violence programming, underscored by the introduction of sweeping revisions to our Title IX policy just this summer, as well as our work in the areas of mental health and suicide prevention, alcohol and other drug education, recovery support for students combating addiction and student health services, among other things.

It was with this in mind that the students, alumni, administrators and other representatives to the Homecoming Steering Committee made the decision to prohibit outside alcohol this year, opting instead to contract with a vendor to sell beer and wine and monitor consumption. By instituting this change uniformly, the Steering Committee is confident that the camaraderie students, alumni and their extended TCNJ families have come to expect during the Homecoming celebration will remain intact.

That there have been incremental changes to the alcohol policy for Homecoming in recent years is reflective of the fact that curbing overconsumption and underage drinking has long been a priority of the Steering Committee.

According to recent data from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, more than 40 percent of college students binge drink, and alcohol contributes to an estimated 600,000 injuries and nearly 100,000 sexual assaults annually.

The updates to the alcohol policy in prior years have gone a long way in minimizing unfavorable outcomes related to excessive consumption during Homecoming, but isolated occurrences of overindulgence persist. While we recognize that this change, coupled with the longstanding policy of campus police to turn away guests that arrive in an unsafe condition, may not eliminate such incidents altogether, we believe that we can reaffirm the purpose of Homecoming as a safe and inclusive event not only during the tailgate, but also pre- and post-game activities.

Finally, we agree that above all else, Homecoming is about students and alumni coming together. That’s why we’re working with the vendor to manage traffic at points-of-purchase and keep food and beverage prices reasonable. We will provide updates on the siting of vendor booths, beer and wine lists and pricing in the coming days on the Homecoming website.

We have no doubt that Homecoming will continue to be a hallmark of the TCNJ experience. From the football game to the tailgating events that will be better than ever this year, there will be something for everyone. We encourage you to visit the website, which is now live, to learn about the exciting things we have planned for Homecoming 2016. We hope to see all of you on Saturday, Oct. 29.

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