Springfield, Ohio - Nationally, campus drinking is responsible each year for an average of 1,400 deaths, which equals four college-aged young adults dying every day as a result of alcohol abuse. According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, more than 500,000 injuries and 70,000 cases of sexual assault or date rape are associated with alcohol misuse on college campuses. With this in mind, officials at Wittenberg University have announced changes in the campus alcohol policy including tougher sanctions for alcohol violations and increasing the students' accountability for the misuse of alcohol, beginning next academic year.
The frightening statistics cited are listed in the study, "A Call to Action: Changing the Culture of Drinking at U.S. Colleges." The report examined the impact of drinking on health and safety and analyzed data collected from the Census, Department of Education, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Harvard School of Public Health's College Alcohol Study, Department of Transportation and other sources.
"Alcohol use and abuse takes an enormous toll on our campus, not unlike so many other campuses across the nation," said Debbie Heida, vice president for student development and dean of students at Wittenberg. "It has been at least 10 years since we revised our campus alcohol policies, and after reading the statistics, our campus Coalition for Alcohol Abuse Prevention (CAAP) has urged us to change our response to campus drinking."
As a result, sanctions will become more detailed and stringent, including suspension as an end result of a fourth offense. Beer kegs will also be banned from all university-owned campus apartments and residence halls.
The CAAP is comprised of students, faculty and staff at Wittenberg. The coalition has recommended the following new sanctions for the campus alcohol policy: first offense - fine of $100 (a 50 percent increase over the current policy fine) and referral to an online alcohol education program; second offense - referral for alcohol assessment and any continued treatment recommended as a result of the assessment; third offense - disciplinary probation, referral for continued assessment/treatment and parental notification; fourth offense - suspension.
"Our efforts to educate students to drink responsibly, and to hold them accountable when they do not, have had limited success in the past," said Wittenberg President Baird Tipson. "Too many college students across Ohio are consuming quantities of alcohol that threaten their health and their futures, so we're doing what we can to encourage responsible socializing and respect for the rights of every member of our community."
The new policy will not change the way in which students are written up for alcohol violations, in that campus officials will not actively seek out students using alcohol. The typical incident is reported to a resident adviser or security staff member due to noise or some other behavior on the part of the student or the students involved.
"We are encouraging students to get involved in how to implement these policy changes and help us to make a more healthy campus environment," Heida said. "For the sake of our students and for the health of the academic and social climate on campus, we all need to be willing to confront inappropriate alcohol use and to applaud our student efforts that result in positive social events."
Questions regarding the Wittenberg University alcohol policy can be directed to the office of student development, (937) 327-7800.
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