With the end of the spring semester fast approaching, Allegheny students prepare for the school work that lies ahead and search for any outlet available to help them during the next few weeks. In the midst of Safety Week, a week dedicated to ensuring students are as educated in safety as possible, Dean of Students Kimberly Ferguson, Director of Student Conduct and Development Joseph Hall and Director of Residence Life Jennifer Foxman, sat down to talk about Allegheny’s alcohol policy and the way the college prepares for the spring semester.
“In my role as Assistant Dean for Student Conduct, I attend Campus Life meetings, and the alcohol policy was part of one of our subcommittee tasks for the fall semester,” Hall said. “The policy is reviewed every two years, so that was why it was on our agenda to tackle this year.”
Along with reviewing the alcohol policy, the agenda included creating a publication titled “Speak Up!,” which includes information that was previously available in multiple places, including the student handbook. “Speak Up!” gives students quick and easy access to all of this information.
“We tried to incorporate not just policy but some of the things that would help people think about consent,” Ferguson said. “It would help them think about what happens not just after an incident occurs, but also help them think about what it means to be a good bystander, and we tried to put it all in one place.”
Ferguson said she hopes that this program will help to better advertise the college’s policies, especially the Good Samaritan Policy.
As students prepare for Springfest, a weekend of celebration, Foxman has been working toward proactive programming to spread safety awareness across campus.
“We usually do another Safety Week to explain how people should take care of each other, how people can keep each other safe and how people can be good bystanders. It’s not unusual for us to look for ways to reengage the conversation at this point of the semester,” Foxman said. “It’s a good time to bring everyone together, too. We hope that floors are meeting on a regular basis. It really reinforces the idea that they should take care of each other, that they should be proactive and that they should take responsibility for their building.”
“We try to do a lot of proactive things,” Ferguson said. “Sometimes it’s individual, sometimes it’s with a group. We take different approaches. It really depends on what the issue is or what the topic is, and we try to address it by specific groups or individuals as necessary.”
In preparation for Springfest, the campus increased patrols by both Public Safety and Residence Life to ensure students are being safe.
“We’re not out and about to make sure students get in trouble,” Hall said. “Just to make sure students are safe and are making good decisions.”
Furthermore, Hall said, the campus partners with the Meadville City Police Department.
“They’re aware of our schedule,” Ferguson said. “They’ve been here for a while, so they obviously ramp up their patrols of the area. They want to make sure that they are safe because even though they are students, they are still residents of Meadville.”
Ferguson said that although administrators are focusing on the end of the spring semester, they have not forgotten about looking into ways to improve safety during the rest of the year. Each first-year student is required to take an online alcohol safety and education course.
“It’s a good refresher,” Ferguson said. “But it’s something that students need a continual refresher on. So, one thing we’ve been discussing is that one time is not enough. Students need consistent education.”
With the hope of increasing safety across campus, administrators have begun looking into a website that will potentially be made available to students. The website would allow students to search for help themselves, providing both self-service and more traditional options.
“If you look at the new policy, it does list resources not just in terms of the Dean of Students staff and other staff members on campus, but also other education websites that might be helpful. This approach takes us out of the lines of being the people who are the enforcers, and more so the people who are the supporters,” Ferguson said. “The goal is looking at more resources that students can access themselves and hopefully take advantage of.”