Student affairs to crack down on drinking policy

Rum, vodka, gin, tequila and triple sec—all liquors in Long Island Iced Tea—all could be banned from Butler University property in the future.

Irene Stevens, dean of student life, said the university is looking for ways to prevent and control high-risk student drinking due to the increased number of alcohol-induced hospitalizations within recent years.

“What concerns me is the high-risk drinking,” Stevens said. “A couple of things I think are concerning is the presence of liquor and the attitude among some students that you have to go out and get drunk.”

Under current university policy, “alcohol is allowed at university-approved social events or in residence halls if the student(s) is above 21 and is confined to one’s room with the doors closed.”

This year, an alcohol task force is addressing the issue by doing research and exploring several options for the university. Stevens said it is scheduled to release a recommendation that could result in changes to policy in November.

Stevens said one option being considered is moving to a beer and wine policy, which would disallow the possession or consumption of any liquor at campus events or on campus property.

“All of the high-risk drinking incidents that resulted in hospitalizations were from liquor,” Stevens said. “Students aren’t aware of the amount of liquor they are consuming and are therefore drinking too much.”

She said the alcohol task force is researching other colleges and universities that have the beer-and-wine policy in effect to see if high-risk drinking is reduced in these areas.

Sally Click, dean of student services, said she has “no idea” if the beer-and-wine policy would be implemented on campus. She said it is important to do the backup research and consider the campus environment and context within the Indianapolis area.

“I think we would really need to look at what other campuses are doing and see how that would fit here,” she said. “I think right now we feel most comfortable about the message that if you choose to drink, please do it responsibly.”

Click said the task force is a way to involve students, faculty and staff in alcohol awareness and abuse prevention—something that has been a consistent issue for colleges and universities for several years.

“We approach the alcohol issue from the developmental perspective,” she said. “I think it’s always good to step back and review your policies because we are hearing and seeing new people every four years. It gets the thinking outside of the room.”

Stevens also said there might be some changes regarding the strictness and intensity of enforcement from the Butler University Police Department and student affairs.

“We’ve asked BUPD to enforce the open container policy, neighbors in the area have asked them to enforce the noise violations, and we’ve asked them to be stricter in regards to underage drinking,” she said.

BUPD Chief Ben Hunter said his force was “not going to ignore” the issues of partying and underage drinking.

“As an advocate of the university, I’m going to adhere to the current policy,” he said. “The day we don’t recognize the policy is the day we’re burned.”

Hunter said BUPD is taking measures to make the violation of both university alcohol policies and Indiana state law a serious offense.

He said these measures include hiring a full-time detective, creating a landlord database to inform homeowners if their residents are caught having a party, increasing the number of night foot patrols as an outreach to students and working to create a pretrial diversion program to have those cited for an alcohol misdemeanor  do a community service event within the Butler-Tarkington community.

“Community service adds an option for us that allows the students to see that we aren’t retaliatory,” Hunter said.

Thus far in the 2011-12 school year, BUPD reported making three alcohol-related arrests, as well as breaking up three separate house parties during Welcome Week.

In addition, Stevens said there was also one alcohol-induced hospitalization of a sophomore student Saturday night, which she said she thought was less than last year’s numbers.