Primarily, Bard operates under a trust policy. Students are given both the freedom and responsibility to act with relative independence. There are no curfews, few restrictions, and a complete absence of an obtrusive police presence on campus. It’s the administration’s general hope that, without stringent regulations, Bardians will make the correct decisions concerning how they behave and in what ways they spend their time. For the most part, this policy works. On the infrequent occasions when Campus Security is required to step in, it’s typically in a non-threatening manner, so that student-security relations are seldom strained.
Students from other colleges might be surprised at the lack of strictness at Bard. While we do have rules, we also have a surprising amount of freedom. However, when students take advantage of this policy and test the administration’s trust, the result can be unfortunate. For instance, during a big and lavish soiree one year, an inordinate number of Bardians drank themselves into oblivion. Over the course of the night, ambulances were required to rush 15 drunk and disabled students to the local hospital, where some had to have their stomachs pumped. Clearly, these partiers had taken advantage of Bard’s generous policy on alcohol consumption to the extreme, and the result was obvious: Bard canceled the event once and for all. Responses from administration to delinquency can be polarized. Administrators value student freedom almost to a fault, but, ultimately they value student safety more. When the time comes, the gavel can fall hard. No matter how clichéd it might seem, it really is up to students to maintain Bard’s trust and to keep the level of campus strictness to a minimum.