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Sobering consequences for drinking

November 11, 2011

Colleges have long been associated with parties, binge drinking and a bevy of other shenanigans. Students are made aware of the rules according to Johnson Hall Resident Assistant Dominic Sandmeier, but many do not know the ins and outs of the process or what happens with the money after a student is charged.

“We don’t see the money,” said Chief of Police Richard Trende. “That goes into a general fund for the state. It’s divided up into different charges. The court system receives funding from it and the state receives the money. We don’t see anything. There’s nothing that comes to the police department at all.”

Sandmeier said he worries about students who make drinking a large part of their social life for more than just the financial blow that it can culminate in; a ticket for underage consumption runs a student $263.50.

“I feel like it affects our social life,” said Sandmeier. He also said that he believes that it interferes with healthy sleep and social interactions.

Trende commented on another danger of over consumption.

“Sometimes, when people drink, they think they’re five feet taller,” Trende said. “They get into situations that are over their head or they do things that normally they wouldn’t do and there are consequences.” Some of these things include fights and vandalism according to Trende.

“It’s very easy for someone to drink quickly and overconsume,” Trende said. “There is a physiological delay in the amount you consume versus the physical effects that you might initially have, so sometimes a person, especially with hard alcohol, will consume a lot. They don’t feel it until it gets into their system and all of the sudden they are overly intoxicated.”

Students should be wary of mixing alcohol with other controlled substances, according to Trende, including prescription medications. Another worry of University Police and RAs is the physical safety of residents.

“If there’s overintoxication and they’re not able to care for themselves, that would be a case where we would need to take them into emergency custody and transport them to a facility where they can receive medical treatment,” Trende said.

Sandmeier explained the process that he, as an RA, goes through when dealing with a resident who has decided to partake in alcohol while under the legal age. First, the room is confronted according to Sandmeier.

“If you suspect something, you just ask for their compliance and usually they comply,” said Sandmeier. “You basically have them dispose of it.” Next, a document called an Incident Report is drawn up and are routed to and reviewed by Residence Life professional staff.

“If it’s their first violation then they usually just get a course they have to go through online,” Sandmeier said. This is in conjunction with the fine from the ticket. If residents do not comply or the room is extremely out of hand, Sandmeier said that University Police is called in to aid in the situation.

RAs cannot confront residents who are visibly inebriated according to Sandmeier, but it is an obvious tip-off to watch that person’s behavior. “They think we don’t know what’s going on as RAs but we are very aware,” Sandmeier said.

Correction: In the Nov. 11, 2011 edition, the article “Sobering Consequences for Students” stated that Residence Life staff submits Incident Reports to the University Police. Instead it should have been writen that Residence Life Incident Reports are routed to and reviewed by Residence Life professional staff. All internal Incident Reports generated by Residence Life staff are FERPA protected and cannot be shared with anyone outside of the Department of Residence Life without the consent of the involved student or a subpoena. The article has been edited to include the correct information.