KU students reject university’s proposed new alcohol policy

Plan would have allowed staff to enter rooms if violation suspected

A panel of Kansas University students has rejected a proposed policy change that would have allowed senior housing staff to enter rooms upon suspicion of a housing violation.

The KU policy proposal would have allowed housing staffers to enter students’ rooms after knocking and being denied entry if they had probable cause — something like hearing students chanting “Chug! Chug!” or detecting an odor of marijuana.

Members of Student Senate’s Student Rights Committee unanimously voted against the proposal, with many citing privacy concerns as the main reasoning behind their vote.

Committee chairman Tom Cox said that students are concerned that the policy wouldn’t curb drinking and that the Code of Student Rights & Responsibilities guaranteed students the same privacy protection as found in the U.S. Constitution.

“Usually people who get involved in the Student Rights Committee are there because they’re really passionate about student rights,” he said. “To a lot of students, the privacy protection is the greatest right they have while in student housing.”

Diana Robertson, director of student housing, said in a letter to the committee that present policy allows for only residents of the room to be written up for a suspicion of a violation, which may not hold those participating accountable. Also, she said the rights of the individual must be balanced against the rights of the community that do not want loud parties occurring.

“Gaining access to the room is not the goal; the goal is to gain cooperation in upholding the group living standards,” Robertson wrote.

Emily Williams, a graduate student who served as the chairwoman of a separate panel of KU students who examined alcohol policies, said that this likely represented the last chance for the housing policy, which was floated by KU administrators earlier this year.

Cox said any other changes would need to be brought next year, and that, while technically KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little could overrule the decision, KU administrators have indicated they were willing to abide by whatever students chose.

The Student Rights Committee did accept other recommendations to be forwarded to KU’s Office of the Vice Provost for Student Success for possible implementation.

Most of the recommendations involved education and awareness efforts. Those included an educational media campaign, public service announcements on buses and in student media and the creation of KU student-centered alcohol support groups.