By breaking drug and alcohol rules, students at Colonial Inauguration risk admission

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Be forewarned – in the past, the University has suspended or even rescinded new students’ admission for drug or alcohol violations during Colonial Inauguration.

At Colonial Inauguration, students watch a series of skits warning them of the dangers of substance use. And if they actually engage in those activities during their first stay on campus, they’ll be sent to GW’s disciplinary office just like any other student.

The University has suspended and even rescinded new students’ admission because of alcohol- or drug-related violations during the orientation weekend. In at least 2009 and 2007, four incoming freshmen were caught drinking the summer before their first semester. At least one of them regained admission – on permanent disciplinary probation – after she fought to get it back.

Gabriel Slifka, director of the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities, said consequences for students at CI vary by case, “depending on the severity of the incident.” SRR considers whether students’ behavior at CI reflects how they’ll act when they return for the academic year. Slifka declined to say exactly how many times the University had revoked admission for behavior at CI, though he said it was “rare.”

“When a student makes a decision to illegally consume alcohol or use illegal drugs … it calls into question the types of choices the student will make around substance use when they come to campus in the fall,” Slifka said in an email.

David Anderson, director of the George Mason University’s Center for Advancement of Public Health, said an overnight orientation puts more pressure on students to use alcohol and drugs. But he said those nights likely are not the first times first-year students are exposed to a party environment.

“The vast majority of high school students have already been drinking,” Anderson said. “They may not think they’re going to get caught. They may think it’s no big deal.”

Anderson added that students overlook the possible consequences of substance use during orientation because they are trying to make an impression with their peers.

“They’re trying to establish friendships. They’re trying to be viewed as a social animal rather than as a nerd,” Anderson said. “The surprising part is if they don’t think they’re risking their college career.”

During CI sessions in the last four years, the University Police Department recorded 49 drug or liquor law violations in the crime log. Thirty-three of those violations were referred to the disciplinary office.

In 2010, UPD logged 12 alcohol violations, and nine were reported to GW’s disciplinary arm. The number doubled the following year, but just 10 were referred. In 2012 and 2013, less than a dozen students were caught drinking.

University spokeswoman Maralee Csellar said UPD patrols campus the same way during CI as it does during the academic year.

At American University, Vice President for Campus Life Gail Hanson said officials also consider incoming freshman “our students,” and they are charged if they violate the code of conduct, although drunkenness itself is not a violation.

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