Published Sept. 5, 2012
Sanctions and penalties resulting from alcohol violations are now in the spotlight, with Butler University changing how it handles alcohol consumption and problem drinking by its students.
Fines have been replaced with community restoration activities, which will allow students to work toward decreasing the negative effects of alcohol consumption on campus, said Sally Click, dean of student services.
Being on conduct probation now prohibits students from participating in Greek recruitment and holding any major leadership positions on campus.
The Butler University Police Department has also answered the call to be more consistent with policy enforcement and to hand out summons arrests when necessary.
“I suspect what may occur is, for those that aren’t aware (of the changes), that they will quickly become aware and curb their behavior,” vice president for student affairs Levester Johnson said.
Irene Stevens, dean of student life, said students within the Alcohol Task Force, which was assembled during the last school year, felt previous sanctions for alcohol violations were too lenient and that the university needed to get tougher.
This sentiment is reflected in the student conduct case statistics compiled by Click.
Click said that approximately 75 to 80 percent of all conduct cases over the past several years have involved alcohol or drugs.
According to the statistics, there were 321 total conduct cases recorded in 2002. That number has steadily increased in most years since, culminating in a total of 513 conduct cases last year.
Click added that the number of recorded conduct cases does not represent the number of individuals who were held responsible for offenses or crimes.
According to the 2011-12 conduct report, 33 students were required to receive alcohol or drug assessments from a licensed clinician, and 12 students attended Butler’s in-house alcohol seminar.
Click said the alcohol assessments are mandated for individuals who demonstrate poor choices around alcohol or seem to have addiction issues.
“We have this opportunity to at least intervene,” Click said. “When we see that pattern developing, we ask for an assessment.”
The in-house seminar is conducted by Michael Denton, a program director and chemical dependency specialist with Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis.
Denton is on campus every Friday for a three-hour session with students who have been recommended to attend the event and students who have decided on their own to hear him speak.
“He’s really entertaining and engaging,” Click said. “He tells some compelling stories and talks about the continuum of addiction.”
A description of the sanctions Butler can hand out must also be made available to students, according to parts of Section 120 of Title I of the Higher Education Act of 1965.
This is necessary in order for an institution like Butler to receive funds and financial assistance under any federal program. This includes funding in the form of student loans.
Also required under this act is a biennial review of an institution’s drug and alcohol abuse prevention program. This review must determine the effectiveness of the program and implement any changes that are deemed necessary.
Click said the last review was completed in 2010, and she is working to prepare another one by Dec. 31 of this year.
In addition, the act requires that the number of drug- and alcohol-related violations and the resulting sanctions be reported to the Department of Education.
The Financial Aid Office reviews policy and programming, but BUPD Assistant Chief of Police Andrew Ryan keeps statistics of arrests and referrals related to alcohol and drugs.
The number of alcohol-related arrests by BUPD in 2011 tallied 24 while the number of referrals totaled 167.
Ryan said arrest numbers have increased in 2012, while referral numbers have fallen.
While these statistics are undergoing change, so are Butler’s attempts to prepare students for alcohol-related situations in college.
Butler released a new online module called MyStudentBody, and all first-year students are asked to take the survey in the module. The survey addresses alcohol and drug use and sexual assault.
Click said the module will be tested for a three-year period before the university can assess its impact.
“(The module) is going to provide us information to direct our educational efforts and programs,” Click said. “It’s one of those things where other campuses are doing it and we haven’t done it up to this point, and we just thought it would be worth an effort.”
The MyStudentBody module will be used in conjunction with the Indiana Collegiate Action Network survey, which gathers information on students and their choices regarding alcohol, Click said.
The benefit of the alterations to alcohol-related sanctions and penalties cannot be determined so soon, but Click said she felt the changes were necessary.
“We have to have some response,” Click said. “It’s our duty, it’s our obligation and it’s the right thing to do if our mission is education of the whole person.”