Redhawks face earlier classes, new penalties

Kyle Reynolds and Kyle Reynolds

Miami University-Ohio’s alcohol task force recommended last week more early morning Friday classes, harsher punishments for offenses like fake ID’s, and a requirement that second-year undergrads live on campus to help curb the students’ ‘culture of drinking’.

The alcohol task force, which was formed last October with the help of the university’s president Jim Garland, previously had no particular plans on how to curtail the students’ drinking habits.

Jeff Potteiger, chair of the task force, said the group was created as a result of many dangerous alcohol-related incidents on college campuses and a tragic event that happened on their own campus last year.

‘A couple of things influenced the formation, including hearing and reading about trends that came with alcohol and serious binge drinking, such as increases in sexual assaults,’ Potteiger said. ‘Also, there was an incident in which some students died in a fire here and alcohol was involved. These things collectively prompted the President to form the task force.’

One of the proposed solutions that may be unpopular with college students who aren’t early birds is more early classes and more Friday classes.

‘We want to provide the best learning environment for students. Our intent is to make students know they are here to learn and we felt we were getting away from that a little by not having many early classes,’ Potteiger said.

According to BGSU’s Jill Carr, co-chair of the University Committee on Alcohol and Other Drug Issues, there are many issues that need to be addressed in regards to alcohol on college campuses.

‘I think there are a number of things that can be done. Many schools do have many more early classes and Friday classes, and BG actually looked at doing that about six years ago,’ Carr said. ‘I think that could be effective, but there are many things that need to be done to cause campus drinking to go down and there isn’t just one answer.’

Miami’s alcohol task force also believes there isn’t just one answer to curbing drinking, and wants to institute stricter punishments for alcohol-related offenses.

‘We would like to change the student code of conduct and make it stricter for alcohol related incidents. Some punishments may include fines or suspending a student’s parking pass,’ Potteiger said. ‘We also view using fake ID’s as an unethical issue because it promotes lying.’

Jak Leverone, a sophomore at Miami, believes the new policies won’t be effective in changing student’s drinking habits.

‘I don’t think the policies will make any dramatic change, maybe a little, but it seems like a waste of time and energy,’ he said.

Miami and BGSU both have the AlcoholEdu program, which they hope will change the minds of some students about their drinking habits early on in college.

‘If you look at the data you can see there has been change in some behavior. Of and by itself, it will not be an end all to campus drinking, but it is intended to give an educational dose that will be reinforced through follow-up instruction, which should change students decisions about drinking,’ Potteiger said.

Terry Rentner, chair of BGSU’s journalism department and principle investigator for a $300,000 grant to crack down on alcohol abuse by the U.S. Department of Education, believes AlcoholEdu at the University can be beneficial, especially for freshmen students.

‘I believe first year students may change their minds about drinking after they complete it,’ Rentner said.

But Leverone said AlcoholEdu may have informed and changed some people’s minds, but not his.

‘I already knew it all so it didn’t change me. For some students it might of opened their minds, but I was well informed,’ he said. ‘It was irritating and time consuming as a student, but it doesn’t hurt to have it and it can inform some people.’

And in Miami, Potteiger wants students to know that drinking doesn’t have to be part of their college experience.

‘It’s not a rite of passage,’ Potteiger said. ‘Students need to think about what can happen to themselves, their friends, and the University when they choose to drink.’