Disciplinary violations surge in residence halls
Prevention programs and stricter policies aim to deter students from making poorbehavior choices
The total number of disciplinary violations that have resulted in charges has more than doubled in Hecht, Stanford and Eaton residential colleges, as compared to last year’s numbers. Meanwhile, Mahoney and Pearson have both seen a decline in the number of incidents reported. The apartments area has six times more violations resulting in charges this year.
“UM has taken a stricter policy than in the past,” Keith Fletcher, Hecht Residence Coordinator [RC] said. “They have also updated their policies to keep up with the students.”
According to Fletcher, the increase in the prevalence of disciplinary infractions is primarily concerning violations relating to alcoholic beverages in the residential colleges, drugs or drug paraphernalia, disorderly conduct, disobeying orders and requests, ignoring quiet hours, assault and/or battery, and complicity [being in a room where a rule or regulation is being broken].
“We have a very high standard for our staff in terms of what we expect them to confront and what we expect them to write down,” Fletcher said. “[The increase] could be a result of the large percentage of freshman, of the confrontational style of the RCs, or of the changes in policies.”
Fletcher says that minors will be written up for having empty alcoholic containers in trashcans or for using alcoholic containers as decorations. Open containers are not to be present in any room that has minors.
No one the Hurricane interviewed could produce a clear answer regarding a situation in which an open container is found in a living situation in which a room is occupied by both a minor and an individual of legal drinking age. However, several resident assistants [RA] said that each situation is assessed on an individual basis and it will most likely be apparent when an underaged roommate has been drinking.
“Generally, the rules concerning bringing alcohol into the residence halls are very strict,” junior Liz Elder, security assistant, said. “We check for a valid ID every time someone tries to come in with alcohol. If we suspect the ID is fake, we look up the age of the resident and we reserve the right to confiscate the alcohol if the resident is underage.”
Penalties range from a monetary fine, to a three-hour on-line alcohol class, to counseling.
All students in violation of rules regarding the possession of alcohol and/or drugs, or individuals who are under the influence, must meet with Jennifer Brack, assistant dean of students and assistant director for the Center For Alcohol and Other Drug Education and PIER-21.
“Students are required to meet with me personally to discuss their behavior, their goals, and how their choices will determine consequences,” Brack said. “We also notify parents of alcohol or drug policy violations so that they can assist in supporting students towards making healthier, safer decisions for themselves.”
So far this year, 168 cases have been referred to PIER-21.
PIER 21 coordinates all prevention and intervention efforts on campus and presents programs on all alcohol and drug topics to fraternities, sororities, residential colleges, athletes, and freshmen experience classes.
“We create educational campaigns for the campus to raise awareness with posters, newsletters, and flyers,” Brack said. “We handle the referrals for students who have alcohol or other drug problems and maintain a resource library with pamphlets, books, videos, and articles for people who need info.”
PIER-21 also advises three peer education groups: BACCHUS, GAMMA, and Certified Peer Educators.
“Our groups are funded through a few different sources,” Brack said. “We fine students who violate the alcohol or drug policy from $50-$150; $35 of that pays for their on-line education course and the rest goes to support the peer education groups and awareness campaigns for the campus.”
Brack believes that PIER-21 and other such programs have been beneficial.
“I definitely feel that our efforts are making a difference because repeat offenses are extremely rare, and the evaluations of the on-line education program and the other programs we present on campus are very, very good,” Brack said. “We conducted an e-mail survey that 962 students responded to last spring and discovered that most of our students are making good choices.”
According to Brack, the average number of drinks a student consumes is 2.3 drinks in one night and 53.1 percent of UM students surveyed drank alcohol only a few times or not at all during the past year at college the last time they went out.
Some students think that no amount of intervention will stop students from drinking.
“I think people will drink no matter what, they will just do it secretively,” said senior Julie Hickman, who lives in the apartments. Besides alcohol violations, Fletcher says that many other types of infractions are taking place.
“I have seen an increase of complaints about inappropriate sexual advances- a lot of complaints of date-rape drugs…at South Beach, at Valentino’s, and at Club 609,” Fletcher said. “A lot of women in the building will say they blacked out and don’t know what happened.”
According to Fletcher, incidents such as assault, battery, and crimes that occur outside of the residence halls are reported directly to the Office of the Dean.
“Our cases are going up, because its growing pains. We have to get people used to a new way of doing things and a new system,” Fletcher said. “But I think it has been very successful in keeping tragedy down, which is the goal.”
For more information on alcohol or drug related issues visit PIER-21 at www.miami.edu/pier21.
Kathleen Fordyce and Jorge Arauz can be contacted at K4Dice@aol.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.