Jeff Ramsey, a Trinity University alumnus, made a donation to the university this July that will be used to provide food at off-campus parties. Ramsey worked with David Tuttle, dean of students, to decide how the donation would be used.
“He had mentioned that, if he were to donate, for various reasons he thought the alcohol education area would be a worthwhile investment,” Tuttle said. “For me, I think the last thing we need is another speaker. We’re in a pretty good place with our harm reduction model and with the responsible friend policy and the Safer Party Initiative (SPIn) and the Optimal Buzz and B’Low Optimal.”
SPIn requires host organizations to follow certain recommended protocols — such as having a reasonable amount of sober monitors and listing the ingredients in drinks — in order to increase safety at parties and reduce the risk of alcohol-related issues. Tuttle found that one part of the SPIn that students did not seem to be addressing was serving food at parties.
“The issue about food is a little vexing because students would say, ‘We’re not going to serve food at a party because we want to spend our money on the alcohol,’ ” Tuttle said. “I had tried to get some of the fraternity students to go through student government and see if they would set up a food fund, and it just kind of fell on deaf ears.”
Jeremy Allen, assistant director for fraternity and sorority life, explained that food at parties is an important part of promoting responsible drinking.
Although Greek organizations will be a natural beneficiary of this donation, other students who have off-campus parties can get reimbursed for food.
“People could take advantage of it,” Tuttle said. “But that’s something that we’ll have to do in the assessment of it. That’s not a good reason to not try it. And if we have a group of students living in an apartment off-campus and every week they’re coming with receipts and there’s just four of them eating off this donor’s nickel, that’s something we can address. I generally think people will get what we’re trying to do and won’t take advantage of it because it’s a program that could have a long-standing impact, and I think the donor is open to that as well.”
Allen explained that the proper use of these funds will be enforced by requiring groups to submit an itemized receipt proving what was purchased and when.
“It should be pretty easy to monitor that the funds are being used in the way that we’re promoting,” Allen said. “We’ll have meetings with those organizations prior to their event, prior to when they’re planning to use the funding so we can say, ‘Where are you going to go? How much are you looking to buy?’ and Greek Council can communicate the expectations for the tracking aspect of that.”
The program will be run through Student Involvement and Greek Council.
“I think it’s definitely an interesting idea,” said Sarah Hantak, senior and risk management/judicial chair on Greek Council. “I wouldn’t have expected it to happen, but I do think that it aligns with Trinity’s more progressive thinking around drinking and party culture in college. If we have groups having pizza or something like that at their parties, that’s going to slow down alcohol consumption because you’re eating instead of drinking, it’s going to help absorb the alcohol, so there are multiple benefits I see.”
Those interested in using some of the available funds can get in contact with representatives from Greek Council and apply for the funds.