New VP Abel Prepares for Change

Johnny Stevens: VP of Student Affairs, Kevin Abel
VP of Student Affairs, Kevin Abel

Kevin Abel, Vice President of Student Affairs, told a group of student journalists last week that Spring Hill College is unique because it is a wet campus. Abel, only being at Spring Hill since July 1, has a few policies he wants to pay close attention to, and the college’s alcohol policy is one of them.

Abel said that since Spring Hill is a wet campus, the college needs to have an alcohol policy that enforces respectful and responsible behavior. Spring Hill’s current alcohol policy, according to the SHC Department of Public Safety’s 2016 annual security report, already addresses responsibility: “Students of legal drinking age may responsibly drink in their residential space.” The report also mentions that students who are hosting other students in their room/apartment are responsible for the guests consuming alcohol. “Residents in whose room and/or apartment alcohol is being consumed are responsible for, and will be held accountable for, the behavior of their guests, including, but not limited to, ensuring that guests younger than 21 years of age do not consume alcohol, that open containers of alcohol are not carried out of the room and/or apartment, and that neither the residential students, nor their guests, become intoxicated or behave in a disorderly manner.”

The 2016 annual security report also gives statistics for liquor law arrests and liquor law violations referred for disciplinary action. There were no arrests in 2014, 2015 or 2016. However, there were 131 liquor law violations in 2014 and 158 in 2015. Violations in 2016 dropped drastically with only 48 violations.

Abel admitted that since Spring Hill is a wet campus, students are more likely to make poor decisions. He said that if Spring Hill’s student leaders were able to help carry out the college’s alcohol policy, it would be very helpful. “I think you can have policies, but ultimately those have to be executed and those have to be carried out in some way. I think the best way to do that is through student influence and through peer influence.”

Senior senator for Spring Hill’s SGA, Ryan Ankersen, agrees with Abel. “Spring Hill is unique in that it’s a wet campus, however this comes with the caveat that there is more responsibility needed from the student body to promote a healthy drinking culture on Spring Hill’s campus,” Ankersen said. “As long as there is transparency between public safety, administration and the student body, I believe we can promote this healthy culture on our campus,” he continued.

Abel is aware that Spring Hill has an active alcohol policy, but he said it can only be effective if the students are on board with carrying out the policy. If students are on board, he said it would lead to a safer and more responsible student culture. “I think if we can develop policies and do that jointly with students, to be able to allow for that freedom while at the same time managing a responsible and respectful environment, I think it could be successful and a great asset to the campus.”

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