To the Editor,

I write in response to a letter printed last week in The Bates Student raising concerns about the enforcement of our alcohol policies as we begin the academic year. I appreciate the letter’s invitation for open conversation because that is the first step toward finding solutions.

The next step, as I indicated last spring and in my recent community letter, is for the college to form a working group to tackle in a structured and comprehensive way the broad set of issues that affect campus culture and define the student experience beyond the classroom. These issues include, but are not limited to, concerns about excessive and underage drinking and the use of other drugs. Joshua McIntosh, our new Dean of Students, will put together the working group over the next several weeks, and its members will include students, faculty, and staff. The work of the group will involve deep and wide-ranging consultation with students and other members of the college community, providing a forum for the full airing of student concerns as well as a platform for the consideration of strategies for making progress toward a more consistently safe and positive campus culture.

Meanwhile, we have already begun to institute some changes, including developing a clearer and more consistent approach to enforcing our existing policies that address unhealthy and disruptive behavior; better education on these issues during orientation; and a more collaborative relationship between Athletics and the Dean of Students Office that allows deans and coaches to coordinate efforts to address issues of concern.

I take pride in the sense of community and the mutual caring and concern that characterize life on this campus, and I look forward to working with all of you to make this version of ourselves a more consistent reality.

All best,

Clayton Spencer