New policy allows some Airmen to have alcohol in dorms

  • Published
  • By Holly Birchfield
  • 78 ABW/PA
A policy change at Robins Air Force Base has given dorm residents who are 21 years and older and do not have underage suite mates the right to enjoy alcoholic beverages in the comfort of their rooms.

Col. Theresa Carter, 78th Air Base Wing commander, rescinded Robins' earlier policy that prohibited the possession and consumption of alcoholic beverages in the base's dorms.

The new policy, which took effect Sept. 28, allows dorm residents of the legal drinking age of 21 and older to store and consume alcoholic beverages in their dorm rooms. Airmen of legal drinking age may also consume alcohol responsibly while on dorm balconies and while using common and recreational areas, according to the policy.

Master Sgt. Michael Caudill, first sergeant for the 5th Combat Communications Support Squadron and the first sergeant representative for the Dorm Council at Robins, said roughly 400 Airmen who live in the dorms were surveyed about the policy in early 2006.

"The majority of the population wanted it back in," he said.

Sergeant Caudill said the issue of allowing alcohol in the dorms has been discussed for more than two years, and it's one he's glad has been resolved.

"As a first sergeant, I always thought it should come down to individual responsibility," he said. "Alcohol, as (it stands) now, is not illegal, if you're of age to drink. The key is to hold each individual responsible. The dorm room is their private residence. That's where they go to get away from duty. That's where they go to relax. I think if we can't trust (Airmen) in this day and age with using alcohol, what can we trust them with?"

Airman 1st Class Lucy Arrington, Dorm Council president at Robins, said the policy is good in that it boosts Airmen's morale.

"For those of us who are of age, it's nice to be able to go home and just relax without the fear of being in trouble for having alcohol in your room," she said.

Airman Arrington said she thinks the policy will lower DUI incidents among dorm residents.

The privilege of drinking in the dorms has been welcomed by many Airmen.

Airman 1st Class Allison Vanover, a unit scheduler and Dorm Council representative for the 78th Security Forces Squadron, said the policy change was a good move.

"It's showing that the personnel that are of age that live in the dorms get a chance to show they're responsible when drinking and being able to drink in the privacy of their own room and not have to drive anywhere," she said. "I think it should reduce the DUIs and other drinking incidents."

Airman 1st Class Andrew Pfluger, a tech control apprentice in the 51st Combat Communications Squadron, who lives in Todd Hall, said the policy is a good way to cut down the likelihood of DUIs.

While the policy change has its good points, Airman Arrington said the Dorm Council has some concern.

"(The Dorm Council) is a little nervous about it only because we've had incidents in the past with underage drinking and (with) people being hurt, so we want to make sure that doesn't worsen. Obviously, those things can happen, but we don't want the situation to get worse."

Colonel Carter said she feels confident Airmen will step up to their responsibility.

"I told our dorm residents at the 'dorm call' we had in September that I based my decision to allow alcohol back in the dorms on my belief that our Airmen can and will make responsible choices when it comes to alcohol consumption," she said. "We entrust them with multi-million dollar aircraft, equipment, and facilities and place them in positions of significant responsibility and trust. We expect them to be responsible and conscientious in the execution of those duties and, therefore, we should expect the same responsible behavior when they are off duty."

Chief Master Sgt. Carol Dockery, 78th ABW command chief, said allowing alcohol in the dorms was the right thing to do.

"The decision to reverse the dormitory alcohol policy didn't come easily, but I honestly think we got it right," she said. "Prior to pulling the trigger, we got buy in from dorm council members, first sergeants, supervisors, and commanders. I agree 100 percent that we need to hold Airmen accountable, but leaders and wingmen must stay actively engaged."

Colonel Carter said Airmen who fail to act responsibly with alcohol will face the consequences.

"If we have Airmen who prove us wrong, squadron commanders and first sergeants will hold our Airmen accountable," she said. "I believe our Airmen want to do the right thing. They want to be good wingmen and look out for each other, and they are capable of exerting 'positive' peer pressure on each other to make responsible choices."