On August 17th, Reed President Audrey Bilger invoked the special authority granted to her under the community constitution to add a fifth policy clause to the college’s Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) policy. The new article, which was first put forward by student advocates from the Sexual Health Advocacy and Relationship Education (SHARE) program last January, makes it a violation of AOD rules to knowingly provide potentially intoxicating substances to others without informing them of the contents, an act commonly known as roofieing. The full new clause reads:
“5. It is a violation of this policy to knowingly make available to others a beverage, food, or other substance that contains alcohol or other drugs without informing them that it contains alcohol or other drugs, regardless of whether the person consumes the substance; suffers any adverse effects from consuming the substance; or suffers additional harm as a result of consuming the substance. Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission-licensed servers working in that capacity are exempted from this policy. Any alleged violation of this policy shall be addressed as a Level IV response.”
A Level IV response is the second highest level of possible sanction under the college’s AOD policy, and calls for the convening of an AOD Review Panel made up of one Student Life staff member, one faculty member, and one student member of the Judicial Board (J-Board). Such a panel has the power to recommend serious sanctions, but does not have the power to suspend or expel students, and is instructed to “place particular emphasis on treatment and educational outcomes,” according to section six of the AOD policy. However, if the panel determines that the case in question constitutes a serious violation — which is defined by the policy to include possession or distribution of “hard” drugs or distribution of alcohol to minors — the committee can recommend that the case be promoted to a Level V response, in which case it is referred immediately to the full process of the student Judicial Board.
SHARE advocates first proposed an amendment to the AOD policy last January, and the document went through formal review by both the Student Senate and the student body at large. The language of the amendment was updated in response to feedback and concerns from both the Senate and the student body, but ultimately received “overwhelming support” when the feedback period ended in mid-April. In accordance with community constitution procedures for proposed legislation, the amendment then had to be discussed and approved by a majority of the faculty in order to go into effect. SHARE advocates were in attendance when the amendment was raised for discussion at the May 12th faculty meeting, but a formal vote was delayed until the following week. Unfortunately, too few faculty members were in attendance at the May 19th meeting — held at the very end of the academic year — to meet the necessary minimum quorum to hold a vote. The amendment was thus not approved by the end of the year, making it impossible for another faculty vote to be held in time for the 2023 new student orientation week.
On July 10th, SHARE advocates contacted President Bilger to request that she invoke her special authority in order to temporarily bypass a vote of the faculty and put the amendment in place in time for orientation week. Their letter argued that, “It is essential to the safety of incoming students for this legislation to be approved before Orientation Week for the 2023-24 Academic year.” “SHARE staff,” they said, “[want] to see this amendment adopted and publicized to make it clear to all community members that this behavior is unacceptable, discouraging community members from taking such actions in the future, and allowing those who choose to involuntarily intoxicate others to be held accountable by Reed College policy.”
President Bilger ultimately agreed. “When a request is made to the President regarding policies that have significant impact for reducing harm and risk,” she wrote in an email to the campus, “it is important that strong consideration be given to promptly update our policies in order to ensure the safety of our campus.” The new policy, she said, “helps to ensure the safety of our campus and that we begin the new academic year with clear expectations around alcohol and other drugs.” President Bilger used her special authority to pass the amendment after consulting the faculty Committee on Academic Policy and Planning (CAPP), the Dean of the Faculty, the college’s Vice Presidents, and the Student Life department. The amendment thereby went into immediate effect on the morning of the 17th, and will remain in effect going forward.