SGA Discusses Updates to Alcohol and Drug Policies, Julie Cook Advises her Last Meeting
BY JIM MALVEN
Recent updates to the student alcohol and controlled substances policies, the topic of Dr. Akande’s town hall meeting, were discussed extensively during Thursday’s Student Government Association meeting.
These changes, which students can access on pages 29 and 39 of the student handbook, involve higher fines for violations and counseling.
Several senators criticized the fines, saying that they only punish those who use alcohol and/or drugs, when the school should be helping those individuals.
“I consider the changes a start,” Dan Haslag, interim vice president and dean of students, said in response to the student criticism. He explained that the goal of the policies is to “raise awareness” and make the campus a safe environment.
According to Haslag, the safety concern is the reason why sanctions for controlled substance abuse are harsher than those for alcohol abuse. He said that he has had a number of parents call about their children having to deal with marijuana smoke and that he has had to call parents to inform them that their children have overdosed on a particular substance.
During the discussion, SGA President Zach Stafford invited anyone dealing with an addiction to seek help from him.
“I will gladly take the call and help you guys,” he said.
Stafford also urged students to voice their opinions on the policy changes — but to do so in a direct and polite manner. He pointed out that in the past few days, Westminster students have been harshly criticizing the college’s updated policies on Yik Yak, a social media app that allows its users to anonymously post content that can be viewed within a confined radius.
Stafford dedicated the majority of his report to talking about Yik Yak and said that, increasingly, students are using it to publish vulgar and demeaning posts, which are often directed at specific groups or individuals within the Westminster community.
“I have it, and I see the stuff that’s going on there, and it’s kind of sad,” Stafford said of Yik Yak. “It does nothing but bad things.”
Stafford explained that upset students can speak with administrators directly instead of posting on the app.
“The school needs your input,” he said.
Thursday’s meeting also included an announcement from Julie Cook, SGA’s adviser and Westminster’s Director of Student Involvement.
She said she will be leaving the college on Feb. 5 to pursue a job opportunity in Lee’s Summit, Missouri.
“It is really sad to be leaving,” Cook, who has been attending SGA meetings for nearly four years, said to the Senate. “I want to extend my gratitude to you.”
“Julie’s done a lot for the SGA, and she’s done a lot for CAB,” Stafford said in response to the announcement. “She’s done my job plus the job of two other presidents,” he added, followed by a standing ovation.
“It’s been a truly amazing experience,” Cook said. “I can’t say enough about how much I love the students.”
Cook has been responsible for carrying out various planning and logistical operations for SGA and CAB events and described herself as “the one working behind the scenes.”
“I help them achieve their visions,” she said.
Following Cook’s leave, Jackie Weber, director of Residential and Greek Life and assistant dean of Student Life, will take over as CAB advisor; Golly Easterly, ’18, will take on the role of SGA advisor; and Dan Haslag will become the adviser of the SGA executive board.
Other orders of business included approving a $500 charter for a new business honorary society, Delta Mu Delta, which will be open to any business administration, accounting or finance major who meets or exceeds the minimum GPA requirement, the swearing in of six recently elected Senate members, and an Efficiency Fund update: The school has installed energy-efficient hand dryers and energy-saving LED lights in Hunter Activity Center, and the Environmentally Concerned Students (ECoS) organization is planning to create a “green hall” called EcoHall in the first floor of Emerson Hall.