BY ALEX JAFFE
There was no alcohol in the room when Doug Rissing, a sophomore in Randolph Hall, and five others were referred by Residence Assistants to the Judicial Review Board.
The students had been playing a game of “water-pong” on a folding table with cups of water, Red Bull, and Gatorade.
Pong tables of any kind constitute a violation of the residence hall policy that prohibits “[p]ossession of, or use of any objects used to enhance the ingestion of alcohol such as, but not limited to, ‘beer pongs.’”
After the students were charged, everyone who was present in the room at the time of the incident received a letter.
Rissing and his friends added six more to the 76 students charged with judicial violations this past August.
Twice as many University of Mary Washington students were charged with judicial violations in August 2008 compared to August 2007.
Director of Judicial Affairs and Community Responsibility Ray Tuttle explained that student charges can amount quickly when many students are found violating policy in a single crowded room.
Tuttle explained that when students choose to be present in a risky situation, even if they are not violating any policies themselves, they may still be charged.
He said that the Judicial Review Board does not want the Resident Assistant or Head Resident to make judgment calls about who is or is not in violation right there at the incident.
“It might be a good idea to remove yourself from the situation. If you choose not to remove yourself, you have the right to go to a hearing and tell the hearing officer or board why you should not be found responsible,” Tuttle said.
According to a Residence Life staff member, a high number of judicial charges could be prevented if the school made the punishments stricter.
The Student Handbook explains that students found responsible for violations face sanctions that range from reprimand to expulsion.
The Residence Life staffer agreed to speak on record, violating to Residence Life policy in exchange for anonymity.
They went on to say that while UMW is stricter than many other schools, students often end up only paying a fine and continue on violating policies because they find the fine is worth whatever rule they are breaking.
The source expressed hope that UMW will toughen up on consequences for violations so that students can have what the source called a safer and more responsible campus.
Violations this August included mostly underage possession or consumption of alcohol, violating quiet hours, and returning to residence halls before the assigned move-in date. A large portion of these occurred in the first weekend of school.
Out of all the charges, 45 were males, 31 were females despite the almost 2:1 female to male ratio.
Most of the charges have occurred in residence halls with 29 in the University Apartments and 15 in Mason Hall.
As for Rissing and the others with the water and folding table, they could not comment on any developments beyond those of the incident itself as that would violate another judiciary policy.
Director of Residence Life, Chris Porter explained that the “beer pongs” rule was enacted when the University Apartments opened. She said that people bringing tables into their apartments for beer pong created a fire hazard.
Porter concluded that big tables used for any kind of pong are essentially a fire hazard because it falls under the residence hall extra furniture prohibition policy.