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Board of Trustees Unanimously Approves Alcohol Policy

The new alcohol policy written and proposed by the Otterbein University Student Government (OUSG) was unanimously approved by the Otterbein Board of Trustees in April and will go into effect July 1 on the Westerville campus.

The new policy allows students 21 years of age or older to possess and/or consume a limited amount of alcoholic beverages on campus in designated, university-owned living areas phased in over a number of years. Additionally, alcohol will be permitted to be served at approved University-sponsored events such as alumni events or gatherings at the president’s home.

“The whole process was student-led, student-driven and student-researched,” said Jennifer Bechtold, director of the Otterbein Center for Student Involvement (OCSI). “This initiative is a good example of our new shared governance system in which our students really have a voice and opportunity to make real change on campus.”

OUSG convened an ad-hoc committee in the fall of 2015 to explore the option of allowing alcohol on campus. Under the advisement of Colette Masterson, associate director of OCSI, the committee surveyed the other nine institutions in the Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC), who do allow alcohol on campus. The committee also surveyed a few Methodist-related institutions, including Ohio Wesleyan University, Hendrix College and Albion College; and various offices and departments on the Otterbein campus.

Over the next several months, the committee sorted through its research and drafted a comprehensive alcohol policy which it presented to the full OUSG. The student body approved the policy by a 23-2 vote in Feb. The Otterbein Senate followed, approving the new alcohol policy with a unanimous vote at its meeting in March, moving the policy on to the board of trustees.

The new alcohol policy was written to be phased in slowly over a three-year period, its progress closely monitored by a committee consisting of members from student government, Otterbein Police Department, residence life staff, and others, according to Masterson. The alcohol policy will undergo evaluation over the coming year to determine what changes, if any, need to be made to the alcohol policy before expanding its reach.

Only students who live in the Commons, two apartment complexes located on Park and Home streets, will be allowed to possess or consume alcohol in the first year of the new policy. Approximately 175 students live in those apartments. The rules are strict, limiting the amount of alcohol that can be permitted at one time and the number of guests that can be present when alcohol is served. All drinking games are prohibited under the new policy.

Going forward, alcohol could be allowed to be consumed in Otterbein’s theme houses and suite-style residence halls in 2017-18, according to the new policy.

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