Published: Monday, November 19, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
The Residence Hall Association held two town hall meetings this week, giving students a chance to ask questions of some Boston College administrators.
The meetings, one in Newton Campus’ Yellow Room on Tuesday and in Upper Campus’ Cheverus Hall on Thursday, featured representatives from BCPD, Residential Life, Dining Services, Transportation, and the Volunteer and Service Learning Center.
Students at Thursday’s meeting were mostly concerned with BC’s alcohol policies and recent changes to dining options.
One student asked how BC’s policy stating that underage students can be documented for being in the presence of alcohol, even if they are not drinking, could be considered fair.
“If you were deemed to not be drinking, it’s not the same sanction as the person who owns the room or is providing the alcohol,” said George Arey, director of Residential Life. It is likely that if it can be proven that the student was, in fact, not drinking, he or she will receive only a warning, Arey said. If the behavior persists, however, Arey said that it is likely that further administrative action may be required.
“It is a bit of an imperfect science,” said Cameron Smith, assistant director for Residential Life in the First-Year Area.
When asked about possible changes to the alcohol sanction matrix, Paul Chebator, dean of students, said that an update did seem necessary at this point.
The matrix was designed several years ago at the request of student government representatives, who said that having a clearer system of consequences would be helpful, he said.
“The level of intoxication that we’re seeing now can be scary,” he said, noting that he has seen cases in which students have had a blood alcohol content three or four times over the legal limit. “It’s something that needs to be fixed.”
He said that the Dean of Students Office is looking at other schools’ policies and will involve BC students in the revision process.
Dining options and policies were another popular topic. A student asked about why BC Dining Services (BCDS) does not offer Starbucks coffee or food from other franchises.
According to Helen Wechsler, director of BCDS, Starbucks coffee was the only coffee available on campus about 16 years ago. It, like other franchised options, is not offered now because of new licensing agreements, a lack of space on campus, and the limited opportunities to make money on a storefront that would likely cater exclusively to students.
Another student asked about whether it was true that students’ dining plans have money built into them that is set aside specifically to compensate for stolen goods.
Wechsler said that this was no longer the case, though until 2004 meal plans did carry a $350 capital restoration fee that helped pay for renovations to Corcoran Commons and Stuart dining hall.
“You are never billed for anything that you didn’t purchase,” Wechsler said.
When asked about seemingly high food prices, Wechsler said that BCDS strives to make sure its prices are similar to comparable restaurants.
The prices reflect the cost of food, labor and operations, and benefits to employees, which are better than those of other universities and dining establishments, Wechsler said.
The panelists were asked which challenge their respective offices or departments were struggling the most with and how students could help find a solution.
Chebator, Wechsler, and Arey each spoke about student conduct.
Chebator talked about the recent issues with student conduct during Late Night in the dining halls.
“It’s not just a conversation for the newspapers,” he said. “It’s a conversation for student leaders and students in general.” Chebator also said that he has received emails from alums expressing shock and concern about Late Night behavior.
Wechsler said that many of BCDS employees are students and immigrants who appreciate not only kind behavior, but also the benefits they receive as employees.
“You can do great things right here by spending money at dining services,” she said.
According to Arey, residence halls have sustained thousands of dollars in damage due to vandalism this year.
“There’s a disconnect between who we are as an institution, who we espouse to be, and how we act,” Arey said.
Smith and BCPD Lieutenant Christ Santiago both emphasized the importance of student feedback in surveys sent out by their respective departments.