Printer Friendly

Colorado university tries to alter drinking culture.

Byline: Edward Russo The Register-Guard

Unlike the University of Oregon, the University of Colorado Boulder penalizes students for breaking a variety of laws off campus.

Boulder students cited for committing crimes, violating the student code of conduct or campus alcohol polices, can plead their cases in hearings before officials in the Office of Student Conduct, which has 12 employees.

If officials determine that an underage student possessed or drank alcohol, for example, they might be required to attend a class on the dangers of alcohol.

If students are guilty of repeated or more serious violations, they could suffer a variety of sanctions, from having to pay restitution if property is destroyed or people are harmed, to probation, suspension for one or two semesters, or even expulsion.

"Each case is viewed on its merits and specifics," CU spokesman Bronson Hilliard said.

A student cited for being a minor in possession of alcohol for having a bottle of beer would not receive the same kind of punishment as a student who was "passing around an open bottle of vodka to three other underage people" Hilliard said.

The latter would be considered a serious alcohol violation, which, if repeated, could result in a suspension, he said.

"But there is no mandatory sentencing matrix. Each case is taken on a case-by-case basis."

CU in the 1990s started cracking down on alcohol-related behavior.

But shocked by an alcohol-related death seven years ago, the university launched a more comprehensive approach.

"It's not just being punitive," Hilliard said. "We are really trying to change the total atmosphere here, both on campus and throughout the community."

Students who apply to the university must answer an admissions question on "What kind of contribution are you going to make while you are here? We want to know what type of person you are going to be, not just how academically qualified you are."

The question gets prospective students thinking about being responsible city residents, he said.

"It's trying to engage students as citizens while they are here," Hilliard said. "We just don't want our students to just pass through our hallways. We want them to become an involved member of the campus and the Boulder community."

On campus, students are constantly exposed to messages that stress that alcohol and drug abuse are unhealthy and potentially dangerous.

That message was underscored when Michael Hoffman, a 21-year-old CU student, died on Aug. 26, after a night of partying. Toxicology reports are not complete, but officials suspect alcohol was a likely factor in Hoffman's death.

In the last school year, CU officials reviewed 6,132 student infractions of the student conduct code. Of those, 2,500, or more than a third, involved alcohol, the university said.

CU dramatically increased its anti- alcohol efforts following the 2004 death of student and fraternity pledge Gordie Bailey, who died of alcohol poisoning after fraternity brothers took him and other recruits into the mountains for a hazing ritual that involved drinking whiskey and wine.

Now, students must take an online alcohol education course before they can start classes. The UO has instituted the same online course for all new students.

CU has also added campus housing so more students, particularly sophomores, juniors and seniors, can live on campus, where alcohol is not allowed.

Students can have "a lot of time on their hands," Hilliard said, so the university has added classes that students can take in the residence halls.

And CU has tried to make campus life more appealing by offering concerts, films and other entertainment on campus, opening a large dining hall, and planning a dramatic expansion of its student-funded and operated recreation center, Hilliard said.

Since 2007-08, the number of alcohol-related cases handled by the office of student conduct has dropped by 17 percent, he said.

"You have to engage students on a number of different fronts," Hilliard said. "If you are going to turn the alcohol and party culture around, you just can't try tougher penalties."

- Edward Russo
COPYRIGHT 2011 The Register Guard
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2011 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Local News
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Geographic Code:1U8CO
Date:Sep 18, 2011
Previous Article:Police plan show of force next weekend.
Next Article:Autzen lets sleeping Duck Lips lie Some banned noisemakers arrive on game day, but security keeps hands off.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2021 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters |