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New alcohol policies for RCOs insulting to adult students

Graduate Division

The UCSF administration has decided to institute a new alcohol policy for student clubs, where alcohol can be consumed during club meetings only if a faculty or staff member is present. 

As an organizer of a registered UCSF club, I find this policy extremely inconvenient. As a student, I find this policy offensive. Almost by definition, student clubs are geared toward student issues. As a result, it will likely be extremely difficult to persuade faculty or staff to take time out of their busy schedules to attend every meeting. 

One may reply, “Well you don’t have to drink alcohol to have a meeting.” This is certainly true, and student club meetings will continue without alcohol. However, to this I would reply that students work extremely hard, and it is totally reasonable that we would like to enjoy an adult beverage during socially oriented club meetings. One has only to look at faculty social functions to see the truth in this statement; how often have I despondently stared at the contents of a vending machine while the attendees of a faculty-run meeting are consuming fine wine and hors d’oeuvres down the hall? 

In addition, it is difficult for me to imagine how a faculty/staff person will add responsibility to a student-run event. Is the expectation that the chaperone will impose limits on alcohol consumption? Perhaps they will call the students’ parents if they misbehave? Why must we be treated as children? We allow medical and nursing students to begin performing medical procedures on patients, graduate students to operate millions of dollars worth of equipment, and yet we are not expected to consume alcohol responsibly? Furthermore, why must a faculty/staff member be treated as a chaperone? I would imagine that the last thing a faculty member would want to do with their time is to take on chaperone-like responsibilities for a group of adult students during after-hour events. Why should one group of adults be put in a place of responsibility over the actions of another group of adults? This is not in their job description, and it is preposterous to expect that they would be any good at it. 

We are a school of graduate and professional students, which means that it is extremely rare for a student to be under drinking age. For myself, I could easily find a faculty/staff person who is younger than me, yet the presumption of this policy is that this individual would be more responsible than myself solely by way of their professional title. In my personal experience, I have never witnessed or heard of alcohol being abused during a student club meeting. In fact, most attendees don’t consume alcohol at all because they know that they have to go back to lab or return to their studies afterward. 

I attended a GSPA meeting on March 2 to listen to a representative from the office of Student Life explain the new policy and its rationale. The policy was described as being implemented “for student safety.” I find it insulting that the UCSF administration feels that its adult student population is incapable of consuming alcohol moderately and safely, just as is done at every other social function that is held on campus. The reality is that students have it tough. We work hard, survive off loans or a small stipend, and live in the most expensive city in the country. Now, despite being full adults in the eyes of the law and being trained in highly skilled practices at an elite university, we can no longer be trusted to drink alcohol responsibly during our clubs’ social functions. If this is how UCSF looks after my safety, then I would prefer them not to look after it at all.

MORE: UCSF announces new restrictions on alcohol policy