UMD increases penalties for underage drinking

by Melinda Rogers

Students at the University of Minnesota Duluth will face tougher penalties for underage drinking, including the notification of parents after receiving an underage drinking citation.

UMD Chancellor Kathryn Martin outlined new provisions in the school’s alcohol policy Tuesday. The policy was reviewed after the alcohol-related death of a student in April.

Ken Christiansen died from hypothermia after attending a party thrown by UMD’s rugby team and falling into a creek on his way home. Christiansen was legally drunk at the time he fell into the water.

While Christiansen was not a victim of initiation at the party, UMD suspended all activities of the men’s and women’s rugby teams indefinitely as a result of the incident.

Martin announced Tuesday the teams’ suspensions would continue through fall semester, after which their status would be reviewed. The teams will be placed on two years’ probation even if allowed to play next year.

Along with the suspensions, Martin said she is requiring all team members to pay $75 to take a UMD-sponsored alcohol education class.

Other new sanctions include a $100 University fee for students who are issued an underage drinking citation. The fee will be added to other fines a student might have to pay.

Suspension or expulsion can occur after a student’s third on-campus offense, Martin said.

The Duluth Police Department is collaborating with the school to help curb the problem of underage drinking on campus.

Instead of allowing intoxicated students to return home, officers will now bring them to the city’s detoxification center.

UMD’s decision to review its alcohol policy came in the aftermath of the Twin Cities campus’s decision to do the same.

In February, University freshman Jonathan Thielen died after falling from his lofted bed in Bailey Hall. He had consumed alcohol before his fall but was well under the legal blood alcohol limit.

While alcohol was not the cause of Thielen’s death, the incident prompted the University to review its alcohol policy and establish new provisions.

-Staff and wire reports
contributed to this report.

Melinda Rogers welcomes comments at [email protected]