Along with open conversations about alcohol, sex and drugs, mandatory attendence by a Community Advisor (CA) is now part of Beer and Sex meetings with first-year students.
Anjelica Carroll ’19, president of Beer and Sex, said that CAs had often come to part or all of their hall’s Beer and Sex meetings, but never before has attendence been required.
The change comes as a result of the Beer and Sex program transitioning from a student organization to a departmental organization, according to Director of the Cox Health and Counseling Center Chris Smith.
Carroll noted that Beer and Sex has always worked closely with the Health and Counseling Center, even while it was a student organization. Much of the group’s funding, such as its training at the beginning of the year, has been provided by the Health and Counseling Center, according to Smith. Mike Durham, the associate director of counseling services, has also served as the group’s advisor in past years.
When Smith became aware that the Health and Counseling center was funding the Beer and Sex Advisors last year, he told them they could offically join the department, like Peer Counselors and Sexual Misconduct Advisors, or receive their funding from the Office of Student Engagement.
“We sat down with the co-presidents [of Beer and Sex] from January through April over the course of four meetings,” Smith said. “We said ‘Look, from our perspective as professionals, this is what it means to be a student organization and this is what it means to be a department organization … But we can’t pay to bring you back if you aren’t technically part of your department.”
Due to the changes made to the K-Card access policies last year, access to first-year dorms would have been an issue for the Beer and Sex Advisors if they did not become a departmental organization, according to Jill Engel-Hellman, director of residential life and assistant dean of students.
After some deliberation, the Beer and Sex advisors chose to join the department for a year as a trial run. They plan to reevaluate their decision in January, according to Carroll.
Joining the department did not signifcantly change the practices of Beer and Sex Advisors, since their funding and advising already came from within the department. The biggest change to the organization has been the required presence of CAs in meetings with first years.
A CA’s involvement in the meeting is an important factor in fostering a partnership between the organization and Residential Life, according to Smith.
Carroll has seen the benefits of increased CA involvement, but also recognizes the potential drawbacks.
“Having a CA in the room has been really great for my meetings; there has been kind of a hike in participation,” said Carroll. “There are people who are frustrated with the decision … in my experience, from the CAs I have talked to, it’s not totally clear what Housing and Res Life’s expectations are for them and it’s not really clear what their expectations are for us.”
The Collegian has made attempts to reach out to various CAs who said that they were instructed not to talk to reporters.
In order to combat any sort of discomfort, CAs do not have to attend their own hall’s meetings with Beer and Sex advisors, said Smith.
“In case they feel their presence might make their residents uncomfortable when it comes to discussing topics such as drugs and alcohol, CAs can swap meetings with other CAs and attend other halls’ meetings,” Smith said.
Still, Carroll said she thinks it will depend on how residents feel about CAs.
“I have still been able to have open and honest conversations with the first-years,” Carroll said. “But I do think it depends on the relationship between the CA and their residents. If the CA really feels like an authority to you, you just might inherently not feel comfortable sharing about these topics.”