On campus, many posters ask if students “know [their] points.” After nearly two years of research and planning, the new points system has been launched. Starting this semester, points will accumulate for acts such as having open containers, possessing fake identification, playing drinking games, smoking marijuana and more. Each act is assigned a different number of points, and multiple offenses will lead to an accumulation of points. Interim Vice President and Dean of the College Scott Brown states that the old system was replaced because “the warnings and probation were not working.” Dean Brown points out, however that Colgate “does not have a lot of repeat offenders.” The disciplinary system and meetings with advisors that prevented repeat offenses proved to be an educational and valuable process.
Nonetheless, if a student does accumulate points and earns ten or more, they will be forced to take a semester off for a medical leave of absence. Every 120 days (equivalent to a semester) a point will be removed. However, special circumstances do exist in which one can appeal to have a point removed. For example, a student could ask that a point be removed so that he or she can be eligible to study abroad.
The points system aims to put students’ health and education first. The enforcement of the points system allows students to have the strongest educational experience they can.
“We want to have the most powerful education system possible so we can develop and identify what works,” Brown said. “On the other hand though, we must think about things in the environment that get in the way of education.”
Many students have reacted negatively to the new system. Some believe that the administration is trying to abolish the Colgate drinking culture. Others believe that the points system will push drinking further underground. However, the new system is not looking to harm the lives of students.
“I have never spent any time thinking, ‘how can I ruin students’ lives,'” Brown said.
Brown does not believe that the new system will force drinking underground and promote binge drinking.
He looks to schools such as Gettysburg College, who recently adopted a new point- based system, as an excellent example of a positive outcome. They have drastically reduced their drug and alcohol-based hospitalizations. Colgate is part of a intercollegiate learning collaborative spearheaded by Dartmouth College called National College Health Improvement Program (NCHIP). It looks at public health and tries to figure out if what they are doing is helpful and if there are less hospitalizations. Other universities involved in this study include, but are not limited to: Duke, Stanford, Northwestern, Princeton, Yale, University of Minnesota and Wesleyan.
The faculty and administration have been in the students’ shoes before and are able to look back in retrospect. They just want to give students guidelines and ways to help keep them safe, healthy and most of all, alive. In many ways, the new points system is directly related to the deadly Oak Drive accident of 2000. In seconds, the lives of students were destroyed due to poor decision making.
“2,500 students die due to alcohol in colleges each year. That is almost one student body of Colgate. It is scary stuff for us,” Brown said. “Most deans sleep with cell phones next to our heads.”
Death and hospitalizations are not the only consequences that the points system hopes to deflect. Rape, sexual assault and overall regret are also harms that could be avoided.
In order to encourage students to call for help when needed, the Good Samaritan and Medical Amnesty clause have been added to the points system. Under these rules, students do not receive points for helping students in need even if they are intoxicated under 21 years old. This system has been put into place to prevent students from hesitating to call Campus Safety or other emergency services when someone is in need of medical attention.
Brown stresses that “we are not trying to ruin students lives…this is not a game of gotcha. We care deeply about students…the faculty thinks of all of you as our 2,900 children.”
Contact Morgan Giordano at [email protected]