Alcohol violations drop from year to year in residence halls

Alcohol is something that residence life deals with all year round, but numbers indicate that violations have decreased in the past three years.

In the 2012-2013 academic year, there were 141 violations in residence halls, down from 233 in 2011-2012, according to numbers provided by Michael Ginsburg, associate dean of students.

In the past five years, numbers were highest in 2009-2010, with 409 violations.

There are times during the school year where violations are higher than others, Ginsburg said.

These include opening weekend, the first football game, Homecoming, the weekend before Thanksgiving, St. Patrick’s Day, Sibs N Kids weekend and the weekend before finals.

“Alcohol is always the highest code section violated,” he said.

If a student gets an alcohol violation, they keep the information about the violation on file for seven years, Ginsburg said.

Some students do not realize if they get an alcohol violation it could affect their ability to get a job. Several times per week, employers will come in to get information about a student applying for a job, Ginsburg said.

If you are under the age of 21 you are not allowed to have alcohol in your room, but if one roommate is of legal age and the other is not, that is when things can get confusing.

“If your roommate is under the age of 21 and you are 21 you can have alcohol but you have to take steps to assure your roommate does not have access to it,” said Tim Shaal, senior associate director in the Office of Residence Life.

If residents are 21, the alcohol must remain in their room. They cannot take it into another student’s room and it may not be in a common area.

If it is suspected that an underage student has alcohol in their room, they may be approached by a member of Residence Life and asked if their room can be searched.

“We may turn it over to University police if they are not cooperating,” Shaal said.

One misconception some students have is if they have any sort of alcohol-related items, such as a shot glass or beer box in their room, they can be punished.

“If the shot glass has alcohol residue in it they could be held responsible,” Shaal said. “Just having a shot glass isn’t necessarily going to lead to an alcohol violation.”

Some students do not know if their roommates are caught drinking while they are in the room, both people are held accountable whether both are drinking or if only one is drinking because of a policy called “shared responsibility”.

“If you know there is a violation of policy it is your duty to report that,” Shaal said.

Shaal said he encourages students to read the student handbook to make sure they are aware of the policies.

“If you know the policy you won’t find yourself in violation of it,” he said.

Sophomore Paige Pitts said she thinks the rules are fair, but is not sure if they are always followed.

With most of the people in residence halls being under the age of 21, the chance of them drinking with someone who is 21 is more likely.

“It is a rare case of scenarios when [students] drink alone,” she said.