Those of legal drinking age can still face punishment for reckless behavior

MARAIS JACON-DUFFY | NEWS EDITOR

Think you’re home free to drink when you turn 21?

Not exactly—at least not on Butler’s campus.

The majority of alcohol-related ticketings and arrests on Butler’s campus in the past year involved minors possessing or consuming alcohol, according to Butler University Police Department crime logs.

That’s not to say students 21 and older aren’t at a risk of getting in trouble for drinking on campus.

Levester Johnson, vice president of student life, said students of legal drinking age must still hold a certain level of personal responsibility relating to alcohol.

“If you overindulge, you could get into trouble,” Johnson said. “There are still many ways that students who can legally drink may get in trouble by local, state, federal and university law.”

Students of age can still be ticketed for public intoxication, as some were at midsummer events this last June.

Recent changes were made to the definition of public intoxication as it relates to Indiana state law, according to BUPD assistant police chief Bill Weber.

The definition formerly defined public intoxication as someone who is considered to be drunk and in a public place. Now, the definition also includes that the subject must be a clear danger to themselves as a result of being intoxicated.

Weber said there is no legal blood alcohol level that constitutes being intoxicated.

“A certain blood alcohol level doesn’t make you drunk,” Weber said. “Different people have different reactions to alcohol. One person may be stumbling at a .07, whereas an alcoholic may be functional at .13, so it’s not totally fair to use one number.”

Johnson also urged older students to become familiar with Butler’s alcohol policy, which can be found on Butler’s website under “Student Life,” “Student Handbook” and “Alcohol Policy.”

Johnson said the alcohol policy page on Butler’s website was updated to include a clearer and more concise version of student conduct rules relating to alcohol.

Students who are 21 and older are still subject to Butler’s open container policy, Johnson said. This policy prohibits alcohol on main and open areas of campus.

Students may store and consume alcohol in residence halls or campus apartments as long as doors leading to common areas are closed and everyone inside is 21 or older, Weber said. Greek houses have individual rules for alcohol.

Johnson also warns students of the consequences of serving alcohol to underage students.

“A lot of students don’t realize that they can be personally responsible for purchasing alcohol that is later consumed by someone underage,” Johnson said. “Even if they ask them to buy it, or if they consume it at a party without the host’s knowledge, the person who purchased the alcohol can be found responsible.”

Junior Trey Meehan turns 21 this month and said he worries about how to handle alcohol with underage friends.

“I’m an RA, so I know the rules about alcohol on campus pretty well,” Meehan said. “But what I worry about are my friends who can’t go out and drink legally, and I don’t want to be put in an awkward place and asked to buy alcohol for them. Because then I’m liable.”

Johnson said “it’s not worth it” is a common phrase said by students who have already faced legal trouble due to alcohol.

“A lot of these students look back and realize that one second and one bad decision has messed up a lot of opportunities in their future,” Johnson said. “Whether it be jobs, having to pay hundreds of dollars for fines or court fees or having to hire someone to wipe your internet history, they’re right. It’s really not worth it.”

Weber said he also wants students to realize the impact of their actions, and that he doesn’t want students to fear calling BUPD when someone is sick or in trouble.

“My job is really to make sure you get from point A to point B safely,” Weber said. “If that means call(ing) for a ride, that’s fine. Our intent is not an ‘I gotcha’ moment. I don’t want to work that way, and I certainly don’t want BUPD to work that way.”

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