SPAM program waits, dry runs to be expected

The Student Peer Alcohol Monitoring, a peer-monitoring initiative focused on preventing risky behavior, will not be enacted this semester. While it will not be officially enacted, the Student Senate discussed the possibility of finding volunteers to engage in dry runs of the program at events through the end of the year. Nothing was confirmed in the meeting, but the possibility of dry runs was discussed to get more data regarding the real world feasibility of the project.

The SPAM program aims to create safer party environments by having trained upperclassmen monitoring RPI parties in addition to the hosts. The monitors will arrive to an event early and review the venue with the sober hosts. During the event, at least two monitors will regularly survey the area for risky behavior and report it back to the event hosts. The monitors would help assist in any situation that should arise, acting as a peer buffer between the party attendees and the more serious Institute or legal responses to party behaviors and students. Should the police be called, the hosts will talk to the police before the monitors.

Last February, the Intrafraternity Council along with Vice President of Student Life Dr. Timothy Sams, Associate Dean of the Greek Commons Matt Hunt, and Director of the Archer Center for Student Leadership Linda McCloskey looked to implement SPAM for the fall semester of 2012.

Due to the serious alcohol-related incidents at on- and off-campus locations last year, especially in wake of the St. Patrick’s day incidents two years ago and the subsequent Troy Police Department crackdown in the Beman Park area, SPAM was developed to help guarantee a much safer party environment. The SPAM program is slated to eventually fall under the jurisdiction of the Student Health Center.

The administration responsible for the inception of the program have made it clear that the fundamental interest of SPAM lies in the safety of the students, not in catching underage student drinkers.

Last semester, the committee focused on developing a specific job description for the monitors, deciding how to address responsibility and liability in the event of an incident, and locating funding for the overall program.

The program will target all group events on campus, not only Greek events. Any event filed with the Dean of Students office would be eligible for having a student monitor attend. Prospective upper-class students will undergo several training programs, such as Training for Intervention Procedures, the Alcohol Skills Training Program, and Alcohol EDU, to become an official SPAM monitor. Monitors will also be identifiable in a marked shirt to inform the partygoers that the party is indeed a sanctioned event and that it is a safe event.