University standardizes alcohol violation consequences

The University standardized common alcohol violations last week through an elaborate series of flow charts that outline punishments for common college-age offenses including hosting parties and hospital transports.

Many first time offenses – such as underage possession and consumption of alcohol – are now more likely to result in a peer-to-peer meeting and an administrative record, a departure from the previous policy of establishing a disciplinary record.

The new graphics indicate a broader philosophical transition by the University toward student education with a “flavor” of disciplinary action in the aftermath of common violations, instead of primarily relying on sanctions, Assistant Dean of Students Tara Pereira said.

Of the disciplinary actions that took place on campus last year, between 70 and 80 percent were drug and alcohol related, Pereira said. The resulting disciplinary records previously banned students from studying abroad and participating in University programs like Colonial Cabinet and President Administrative Fellowships.

“It’s more realistic,” she said. “It is meeting students where they’re at in their behavior. I know people are going to underage drink, and that’s not the battle I’m trying to fight.”

The series of charts, entitled, “The University’s Response to Alcohol Related Incidences,” was created to outline the disciplinary results of misconduct, while considering prior violations, Pereira said.

The charts – one each for first, second and third-time offenders – have several columns that correspond with low, moderate and high-risk actions.

Under the new system, “low and moderate risk behaviors,” including underage possession of alcohol and hosting a party, will more often result in speaking with a peer educator and creating a Civility Agreement – a personal plan to avoid future violations.

The old procedures allowed for a maximum of three altercations with drugs or alcohol before expulsion or suspension from the University.

“If what you are doing is baseline – essentially breaking the 21 law – we’re going to talk to you, we’re going to educate you. We are not going to beat you over the head,” Pereira said. “I know college students drink, so with that, I’m going to respond in kind.”

Hosting a party where an attendee is transported to the hospital for intoxication will result in an administrative record, mandatory alcohol education, a fine and a conversation with a staff member in the Office of Civility and Community Standards, the graphic shows.

First and second violations of underage drinking or possession of alcohol will not result in a disciplinary record, according to the chart.

Two instances of hospital transport for alcohol result in a referral to the University Hearing Board, a disciplinary record and possible suspension.

Mitigating and aggravating circumstances – including violent behavior, level of compliance with University officials and severity of the offense – are considered before final punishments are doled out.

Student Judicial Services morphed into two offices, Civility and Community Standards and Student Rights and Responsibilities, early this semester as part of a sweeping department overhaul.

The Alcohol Medical Amnesty policy – which allowed intoxicated students to seek help without creating disciplinary records during their first violations – has not changed, nor have the $50 and $100 fines associated with most alcohol violations.

Despite the graphic, Pereira said the disciplinary system will remain flexible on a case-by-case basis.

A similar graphic about the consequences of drug violations is forthcoming.

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