The Collegian
Saturday, February 24, 2024

Officials discuss referral increase

Members of Westhampton College and Richmond College Student government associations held a joint meeting on Oct. 26, to discuss complaints from students on an increase in resident assistant referrals particularly related to alcohol.

Evan Harris, junior class chairman, said several students had expressed concern over the increase in referrals. The two governments met with Patrick Benner, associate dean of Richmond College, and David McCoy, campus police chief, in order to discuss the complaints the senators had received from students with university officials, Harris said.

In the meeting, McCoy told the groups there had not been a substantial change in police policy or in the number of officers on staff, Harris said.

"Arrests rates were about on the same pace, but it was the write-ups from RAs which were a lot higher than anything else," Harris said.

George Beck, RCSGA freshman class chairman, said at the time of the meeting that Benner had informed the group that the highest amount of referrals for Richmond College students had been 118, and that so far this year 252 referrals had been documented.

"Now we're trying to get to the bottom of what's behind that over 100 percent increase," Beck said.

The University of Richmond takes the position that a resident of a given room or apartment is responsible for the actions taken by people in the living quarters, even if the resident is not present at the time of the action, according to the student handbook. Such actions could be unauthorized occurrences with alcohol, violations of the alcohol policy, in general; or other violations of residential or university policies, according to the handbook.

Sanctions range from disciplinary warnings to suspensions, according to the handbook.

RCSGA members have created a committee of approximately eight men to gather information and address student concerns on the increase in referrals. "Our first step is to create a poll to gauge student sentiments," Beck said.

The poll will likely be sent to both Westhampton and Richmond College students, but the committee is still working to get the poll approved by RCSGA, he said.

Beck said there was a disconnect between students and the administration on the perceptions of the enforcement of the policy. Administrators are attributing the increase in referrals to a change in drinking behavior and poor decision-making and students are attributing the increase to a change in the behavior of RAs and administrative officials, he said.

Benner said while there had been more students who had violated the policy this year, there had not been a change in protocol or procedures.

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"The biggest factor that leads to students being documented either by the police department or by the resident assistant staff for violating a policy is because students are being extremely loud and they are drawing attention to themselves," he said.

Benner said when RAs or police responded to parties because of noise complaints and anticipated dealing with noise violations, they often encountered underage students in possession of alcohol.

Beck said the goal of the newly formed committee was to reach an understanding between students and administrators and devise a resolution. "There obviously is a problem," he said. "The task force will be very helpful in reaching a compromise."

Contact staff writer Sarah Bowers at sarah.bowers@richmond.edu.

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