Though hospitalizations for alcohol consumption have increased greatly this year from last year, officials report a “significant” decrease in less severe alcohol violations.
Administrators attribute the lower number of “minor” and “serious” alcohol violations to the University’s new policy of notifying parents of all alcohol violations. A campaign by the Center for Alcohol and other Drug Education has also deterred students from committing violations, drug educators said.
“We want to make the parents partners in education,” said Rebecca Sawyer, director of Student Judicial Services. “They have resources that we do not have and understand the students better than we do.”
In the past, GW notified parents of all drug-related and severe (requiring hospitalization) alcohol-related violations. Beginning this semester, the University began to contacting parents in the event of any alcohol-related offense.
After students commit alcohol violations, they must attend one of three education classes – “Time Out,” “Educated Choices” or “Last Call,” depending on the severity of the violation.
Sawyer said the number of alcohol violations this year, 221, is not broken down into specific types of violations, but she noted that the number of attendees at the sessions usually parallels the number of violations. She said, however, that “differences” do occur.
Almost 100 fewer students attended “Time Out” sessions and 15 fewer went to “Educated Choices” from the beginning of the semester until the end of November than last year during the same period. This year, only 48 students went to “Time Out” and 39 went to “Educated Choices.”
However, the number of students attending the “Last Call” sessions, following a first-time severe offense, has increased from 45 in fall 2001 to 79 so far this semester (see story p. 1).
“Last year, parents were only notified if the student was actually hospitalized,” said Brian Hamluk, manager of the Substance Abuse Center and director of CADE. “I, myself, have made over 30 phone calls this year, and the parents have been very eager to have conversations with students in these sorts of occasions.”
Parents receive a letter from CADE after a first minor offense and receive a phone call and letter after a first serious incident.
A 1998 amendment to the 1974 Family Education Rights and Privacy Act allows GW to contact parents about alcohol and drug-related incidents.
Hamluk said the system needs to be in place for at least a few years before it is evaluated.
Some students said they are unhappy with the policy because they feel parents do not need to be informed.
“If you get arrested in D.C., no one calls, but if you get an alcohol violation, the University calls,” sophomore Laura Berman said. “That’s ridiculous. Parents already know that students drink in college.”
“By calling my parents, the school invaded my privacy,” said a female freshman who committed a minor violation in October.
Some students said the policy has had no effect on their on-campus behavior and that their parents already know they drink underage.
“I received a minor violation this year,” said a sophomore who wished to remain anonymous. “My parents didn’t care, but a letter home was unnecessary.”