Administration imposes indoor alcohol ban
The Crisis Management Advisory Committee and the Office of the Dean of Undergraduates have enacted an indoor alcohol ban, effective immediately until further notice, according to multiple emails from college magisters. This follows a previous recent transition back to wet campus after the announcement of false positive cases.
Gorman said that she is hopeful that restricting alcohol use to outdoor spaces is a temporary measure. According to Gorman, the decision to restrict alcohol use to outdoor spaces was made late afternoon on Aug. 30. Magisters notified their college communities that evening.
“I already had a meeting scheduled with college magisters, presidents and chief justices for that evening,” Gorman said. “It seemed appropriate to have magisters relay the message since they are best positioned to answer questions from students in their own communities.”
Izzy Williams, the Will Rice College chief justice, said she thinks this ban is a reaction and not a solution to the rising cases.
“People are still going to drink indoors even if it’s banned, but it’ll just push people to drink more secretively and less responsibly,” Williams, a senior, said. “I also think it’ll push people to go [off campus] to parties and bars, which is more dangerous COVID-wise than people remaining in the on-campus bubble.”
Andrew Graziano, the chief justice at Sid Richardson College, said he was happy for students when campus was wet, for similar safety reasons.
“Something the past CJ at Sid ... taught me was that if a student wants to drink, they’re going to,” Graziano said. “On a dry campus though, this usually meant students’ own safety was more at risk, which we even saw last year. They were more hesitant to ask for help, call EMS or learn how to drink in a safe manner. On a wet campus, students feel more comfortable asking for help before they need it.”
Williams said she thinks encouraging events or private parties outdoors is a good idea.
“If there are parties on campus, people will go to them. If there aren’t, people will just go off-campus and bring COVID back,” Williams said.
Williams said she believes Gorman is relying on the student body to care for one another and enforce the policies on their own.
“Myself and the other CJs are not the alcohol police,” Williams said.
Gorman said that it is important to reduce opportunities for disease to spread.
“Maintaining a healthy campus is a more complicated process because of COVID,” Gorman said. “Since the pandemic started, we have taken steps to reduce mixing across large groups of students, with the goal of reducing opportunities for disease, if present, to spread. This is the key obstacle to allowing large events with alcohol, like campuswide public parties, to occur.”
Leigh Gabriely, the chief justice at Hanszen College, said she also doesn’t know if the new policy will help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“I just don’t know if it’s going to do anything; I fear that people will just go off campus,” Gabriely, a junior, said. “Rice needs to find ways to motivate students to stay on campus without completely taking away their freedom.”
In an email sent out on Aug. 19, Gorman wrote about temporary changes in the fall semester plan surrounding undergraduate student life on campus. Along with pushing back move-in for upperclassmen living in the greater Houston area, delaying the start of courses and moving course instruction back to an online format for the first two weeks, campus returned back to being dry until the end of the second week of classes.
Upon the discovery that many of the cases that were reported on campus were false positives, another update was sent out five days after the first email re-allowing indoor dining and consumption of alcohol.
News editor Talha Arif contributed to this story.
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