Pitt-Greensburg’s Alcohol Policy states on page 83 of the student handbook that, “Public intoxication and/or possession or consumption of alcoholic beverages by students or guests including those 21 or older anywhere on the Pitt-Greensburg campus, including the residence halls, or being knowingly present during an alcohol violation, is not permitted.”
The Insider sat down with Dean of Students Rick Fogle to get more information about the history, relevance, and future of the standing alcohol policy on campus.
Kendrick: Has the Pitt-Greensburg campus always been a dry campus?
Dean Fogle: As far as I know, yes. When I arrived in 1985 it was dry. At that time when I first came here, University Court was the only residence hall, and it was originally a private apartment building so it had multiple entrances and it lacked a central control desk. Another contributing factor would have had to have been the fact that we were at the time primarily an under 21 school. Unlike Johnstown and Oakland we did not have a sizable resident population and most were under 21. Part of the history was that Pitt-Greensburg was primarily a commuter campus. The first president (Dr. Smith) preferred it to be a commuter campus, so there wasn’t a lot of support to get resident students on campus, and there was no reason for alcohol to be permitted on a campus that was mostly commuters. Things have shifted and certainly now there is more upperclassmen living on campus, but the campus has not looked at the policy seriously for a few years now.
Kendrick: Well, do you think the current alcohol policy is necessary now, 20 plus years later?
Dean Fogle: Well, I would say it is different, it is certainly different from how it was then. The appropriate action would be for Res-Life, RSC, and the residents to see if that’s what people want now. There would be a way, it might cost money, but there would be a way to make changes. It would have to be conditionary, like specific residence halls. So for example, currently there is freshman housing. This could become the over 21 housing. It may create issues, but you could fill a specific hall with 120 over-21 students. And there would be limits and stipulations on your ability to live there, like not having underage guests over to drink, noise limitations, and no kegs. I think it would be important see if that’s what students want, and is that what the staff wants, and can the regulation of this still ensure the safety of students.
Kendrick: Why does the campus allow exceptions to the alcohol policy, like the circle dinner?
Dean Fogle: The president, even before we had residence halls, has always had the ability to give an exemption for formal events.
Kendrick: How would the university go about addressing the current alcohol policy, if it were vocalized that the students wanted it changed?
Dean Fogle: Either individual students could go speak with Troy Ross directly, or since RSC is the governmental group then appealing to them and raising the idea would be the other option. Then from there RSC would canvas to see if there was support on campus for this new policy. Then RSC would essentially follow up with a proposal that would reach the Res-Life staff and then eventually the university’s president.
Kendrick: Do you think Pitt-Greensburg has lost a number of potential students because it happens to be the only dry Pitt campus?
Dean Fogle: I don’t have any available data on the matter, and there is not necessarily any evidence to suggest that we lose students for that reason. However, there are questions related to weekend activities or things to do, and when someone puts a lower score in that category it could be related to that. They may be thinking there is not enough opportunities to drink with peers in a social setting. Inversely, you do have to consider there are people here that actually might prefer this dry atmosphere. And we certainly would not want to drive people away because we changed the policy and made alcohol more available than what people had originally wanted.
Kendrick: With the legalization of weed happening in random places across the country and medicinal use becoming more and more commonplace, do you think if fully legalized in Pennsylvania that this campus would still ban its use?
Dean Fogle: If it was totally decriminalized federally, it would be up to what the students and the staff feel would be necessary. The university can always set its own rules, but right now as far as non-medical use, we are still following state and local ordinances related to marijuana. Medicinally, I have only seen a couple cases, but typically they are in different forms.