Rutgers vice chancellor addresses need for safe drinking habits at RUSA meeting
Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Felicia McGinty spoke to the Rutgers University Student Assembly about new initiatives her department will launch in the near future, as well as existing efforts to reduce alcohol and drug-related incidents at the University.
A new section of the Student Affairs website provides students information about alcohol and drugs, which will educate them about the risks involved in unhealthy drinking habits.
Developing safer drinking habits will be one of the requisites for reopening "The Alley," which was initially shut down due to "safety concerns" after only the second home game against New Mexico.
McGinty said implementing protocols to control who can participate in a new student tailgate is crucial to reopening it.
"It was a great idea and I think it was off to a good start, but Athletics didn't have the protocols in place for it to be a safe space in terms of students," she said. "I think the takeaway is students want to come out and tailgate before the games ... (but) we're not going to let students drive a truck full of alcohol into the space."
Student Affairs offered its own version of a student tailgate in previous years, but McGinty said the idea was not popular enough at the time to continue the event.
"When Athletics opened The Alley, they were on their own," McGinty said. "They made videos and publicized it, so that was all positive, but I think that where they were challenged is all the things we would know and do with risk management, they didn't have those protocols in place."
The Student Affairs website seeks to educate students about issues they may encounter on campus through several training modules.
More than 880 members of greek life have been trained in how to handle crisis situations at parties in the event students drink too much, she said. On-campus residents have also completed the modules— 90 percent of all residents have finished the academic integrity, AlcoholEDU and financial training modules.
Every on-campus resident completed the Not Anymore module, which is designed to raise awareness of sexual assault.
In the near future, Student Affairs will invite guest speakers to the University as parts of its Diversity and Inclusion campaign.
"(It's goal is to) not just to celebrate diversity, but to also create an inclusive environment,” McGinty said. “We want every student at Rutgers to feel welcome. There’s something for everyone here.”
The initiative's goal is to be inclusive to everyone in the community, she said.
“We have work to do. We have learning to do,” McGinty said. “We’re not gonna shy away from difficult conversations. We’re going to challenge each other in a respectful manner so that we can learn.”
The department has also published a 2016-2020 strategic plan and a “Physical Master Plan: Rutgers 2030” through institutional planning and operations that the school hopes to accomplish in the near future.
The new slogan for the department of student affairs is “There’s a U in Rutgers,” emphasizing the individual impact of students, professors and administrators on the University.
McGinty said part of what convinced President Barack Obama to speak at Rutgers in May for the school's 250th Anniversary Commencement was the student effort.
“You have the power to influence this University and improve this University,” McGinty said.
Last week, RUSA passed two bills after a presentation by Kerri Willson, the director of Off-Campus Living and Community Partnerships. The department focuses on helping students move off-campus, find housing and look for housing. The department also informs tenants of their rights and responsibilities.
Willson noted that her department provides local community services opportunities, including working with the city of New Brunswick’s “clean city park” program, Rutgers Against Hunger and other service groups.
The program also works with off-campus students to foster a thriving community through the “good neighbor” program, similar to Residence Life on-campus.
After the presentation, the first document presented was “Bill to Host Zero-Waste Events,” authored by Genevieve Tarino, a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences junior. The goal of this bill is to encourage the University to produce environmentally-friendly alternatives to garbage disposal.
School of Environmental and Biological Sciences sophomore Dorothy Lee is working on prototype for a compost bin that has no odor and involves no worms.
The second document presented was “Resolution to Endorse of Rutgers NO MORE and Co-Sponsor Cover the Campus” authored by Vladimir Carrasco and Natalie Settimo, respectively the public relations chair and sexual assault prevention committee chair.
The bill was written to endorse the Rutgers NO MORE campaign, an international effort to raise awareness about sexual assault and domestic abuse.
According to the iSpeak survey conducted by Rutgers last year, sexual violence affects 1 in 5 women and 1 in 16 men at the University.
“To put action behind our words, we will help (the campaign) organize their ‘Cover The Campus’ event by contributing 500 NO MORE t-shirts which will be distributed to major student organizations,” Carrasco said. “This will express solidarity across student orgs for such an important issue.”
Bushra Hasan is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in cell biology and neuroscience. She is a correspondent for The Daily Targum. Follow her on Twitter @bushrafhasan for more.