Campus alcohol policy, revisited

About five percent of the nation’s four-year college students are involved with the police or campus security as a result of their drinking, according to the government website collegedrinkingprevention.gov.

Bill Born, Vice President of Student Life and dean of students, explains the simplicity of Goshen College’s alcohol policy: “Alcohol policy on campus is most simply stated as the fact that we are an alcohol-free campus, so any presence of alcohol on campus is a problem, in addition to drunkenness and behavior associated with intoxication.”

Traditionally, consuming alcohol off-campus has been an option for older students. Born said that “anytime you move off-campus then it [alcohol consumption] is no longer a Goshen College policy, it is a civic legal issue with state and federal laws, so when students make choices on off-campus, non-college-owned properties, then they run those risks with civil law.”

The Goshen Police Department explains that if officers come across intoxicated individuals while on duty they will ask the person for identification. “If a person has consumed alcohol and is found to be under the age of 21, he has violated Indiana State law and will be arrested,” said Tina R. Kingsbury, the administrative assistant of the Goshen Police Department.

Students who are involved with off-campus incidents involving the police find that their actions off-campus come back to campus with them. The police department produces a daily blotter and arrest logs, which list every arrest and call for service for the past 24 hours. The blotter and logs are public record and are sent out to the media and interested individuals. As head of campus safety and security, Al Mackowiak receives the information from the police department, which he then shares with the appropriate parties.

In recent weeks a story traveling the campus was that the Goshen police officers were receiving a bonus, or some other form of compensation, for their intervention in underage drinking. When asked about the rumor, Born said, “It’s the first I’ve heard of it, but I know for a fact that there is nothing associated with the college.”

The police department responded with the following: “That rumor is completely false.  Our officers receive no perk or bonus for any specific type of arrest. Our employees are paid the same salary every week of the year.” The police department also made it very clear that they do not target Goshen College students, saying that “Our officers always will ask for identification to verify the age during an illegal consumption/possession of alcoholic beverages call but our officers do not ask arrestees, ‘Do you attend Goshen College?’”

Due to community standards, off-campus arrests and violations of alcohol policy carry on to the college. This means that students that get in trouble off-campus will be in similar trouble if the incident had occurred on-campus. Students who violate the school’s alcohol policy are asked to take an online course on alcohol use and students also meet with staff from Student Life to talk about their use of the substance. The online class is offered through the company 3rd Millennium Classrooms, which provides online classes for students all over the country. Born explains that all this is to help educate and inform students on the implications that their choices have.

While campus violations may not seem severe now, Born explains that they have a much larger effect than we may realize. “A classic example of that is that graduate schools, medical schools, law schools, even potential job opportunities, often request Dean of Student Life reference forms,” says Born. These applications ask for information on any disciplinary procedures and could potentially harm a student’s future.

“The perception that my personal choices related to alcohol only impact me in the here and now are simply not true.  Our choices to drink have multiple ripple effects, some of which follow us beyond our GC experience,” Born said.

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Written by Jair Hernandez

I am a Senior Public Relations major at Goshen College.

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