Student alcohol violations decrease

by Ryan May

While the University has spent the past few months debating whether to tighten on-campus alcohol policies, University Police statistics reveal student alcohol violations are at a two-year low.
Violations have dropped 22 percent from 1998 to 1999. Meanwhile, on-campus violations for nonstudents are down nearly 4 percent from last year.
Amelious Whyte, Boynton Health Service coordinator of chemical health programs, said despite police records, drinking at the University is still an important issue.
“Thirty-six percent of undergrads have driven drunk at least once in the last year, yet less than 2 percent get caught,” Whyte said. “Many people have friends that have been caught, but it does not have a positive affect on them because you can do it so often and not get caught.”
According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, someone dies in an a drunken driving accident every 30 minutes.
About 43 percent of college students nationwide reported drinking heavily more than three times in a two week period in 1997 and 59 percent of those students have driven under the influence of alcohol, according to Alcohol-Related Injury and Violence, a nonprofit organization.
“The reality is most people who drink and drive don’t get caught,” Whyte said.
He teaches a class at Boynton about driving while intoxicated and underage drinking. The class covers how alcohol affects the body, how it affects driving performance and why people choose to drink. Although the program is available to all students, it primarily services students who have been arrested for a drinking-related violation.
“I have never had anyone take the class just because of the information; usually it is people who have been sanctioned or know they will be sanctioned,” Whyte said. “Some of the people who take the class don’t necessarily have an alcohol problem, but they could learn to drink less. They don’t view the fact that they drink a lot as a problem.”
Many people assume they will never be involved in a drunken driving accident, Whyte said. But about one in five Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related traffic accident at some point in their lives, according to the Trauma Foundation at San Francisco General Hospital.
Despite the overall decline in campus alcohol violations, the number of driving-under-the-influence citations actually increased to 190 last year.
While University students are less apt to violate alcohol policies, the University Board of Regents is considering a resolution that would allow University officials to notify parents about the drinking habits of their college-age children.
The new resolution is inconsistent with another the board passed last November that allowed alcohol sales at Northrop Auditorium events.
Ryan May welcomes comments at (612) 627-4070 x3223.