For most students, turning 21 means absolute alcoholic freedom. But for students at the Emerson campus in Los Angeles, that privilege is limited.
The alcohol policy is the same at both the Boston and LA campuses, but where the LA campus differs is in the average age of students living on campus. Most of the program’s attendees are last-semester seniors, aged 21 or older, attempting to land postgraduate opportunities. Because of this, Emerson Police chief Robert Smith said he expects them to behave with a level of maturity and practice good judgment about refraining from actions that could result in expulsion from the program.
“I’m hoping [students] will respect the effort that went into making this building possible,” Smith said.
According to Turi Daoust, the residence director at the Emerson LA Campus, ELA has instituted the same alcohol policies as the main Emerson campus in Boston because the administration wants to keep procedures consistent with the main campus.
Senior visual and media arts major Marcus Shutrump, who is currently studying at the LA campus and previously served as a resident assistant at the Boston campus, said the policy has not been a problem for students out west.
“Those kinds of rules are on record with good reason,” he said.
In Emerson’s Undergraduate Student Handbook, the Alcohol and Other Drug policy states that “An individual of legal drinking age may possess and/or consume alcohol only in his or her own room or in the room of another resident who is of legal drinking age or older.” It also states that an “individual of legal drinking age is prohibited from consuming alcohol or possessing an open container of alcohol in any room where individuals under the legal drinking age are present.”
Also, according to the handbook, limitations are placed upon personal possession of alcoholic beverages. No more than one 12-pack of beer (144 ounces), one bottle of wine (750 milliliters), one pint (16 ounces) of liquor (80 proof maximum), or its equivalent can be in the possession of a student at any given time.
There is a different issue at hand in LA, though, due to increased use of cars by students to get around the city for work and internships. According to Smith, the school’s main concern about the students enrolled in the program is drunk driving. Smith said the Los Angeles Police Department is very strict about enforcing drunk driving sanctions, and warned that the city has serious penalties.
Shutrump said that students have kept this in mind, and sometimes walk to bars in large groups — often to Mission Cantina, next door to campus — to avoid driving. During an initial meeting at the start of the semester, students even gave out their numbers in case the need for a designated driver were to arise later on in the year, Shutrump said. He also said that Uber, a ride-sharing app, has gained popularity among ELA students.
“Generally, I think it’s a pretty decent situation,” Shutrump said. “I think people are being pretty safe about it.”
News editor Laura Gomez contributed to this report.