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By L. Anne Newell
Arizona Summer Wildcat
July 30, 1997

Alcohol is university, community concern

One major decision students face when arriving at college is whether to give in to social pressures to drink.

"Students should not buy into the myth that everyone is drinking," said Veda Hunn, assistant dean of students.

"The way to be popular, to make friends, to fit in, is not through the abuse of alcohol," she said.

But the consequences of drinking are magnified when a student is a minor.

Deputy Chief of the University of Arizona Police Department Harry Hueston said: "Underage drinking is a community concern. It is beyond the police, beyond campus health, beyond the dean of students."

Hueston said underage drinking affects the individual, their friends, where the they may live and the future academic and real-life career of the person.

Official residence hall policy states no one under the age of 21 may possess alcohol in any residence hall.

Persons over the age of 21 may possess and consume alcohol in their rooms, but cannot provide or consume alcohol in front of minors or in any open area.

A violation of either may result in probation and educational sanctions. Repeat offenses may result in a hall transfer or expulsion from residence halls.

"Anyone who works in Residence Life would agree that underage drinking is a problem," said James Van Arsdel, director of Residence Life.

"I don't mean to say that every student goes out and gets drunk, but there are problems when individuals do," he said.

Van Arsdel said these problems show up in a number of ways, from vandalism and high noise levels, to unwanted sexual advances.

"All the bad things may be related to the consumption of alcohol," he said.

The Interfraternity Council and the Panhellenic Council also follow UA alcohol policy and regulations, IFC president Troy Zien said.

Under these regulations, fraternity and sorority members are subject to national, state and local laws in regard to social event planning.

The behavior of those attending social events sponsored by a fraternity or sorority is the responsibility of the sponsoring house.

An intoxicated minor, or a minor in possession of alcohol, stopped on campus by university police may be dealt with in a number of ways.

It is up to the individual officer and how he or she views the options, Hueston said.

The first course of action is a criminal citation. The individual signs the citation, promises to appear at a court date, and is released, Hueston said.

The second option is a written warning. The student's name is checked for prior citations, and then the officer decides the course of action, he said.

The action may depend upon a variety of things, such as level of intoxication, Hueston said.

The third option is to refer the student to the Dean of Students diversion program, he said.

Students who meet the criteria are sent to the Dean of Students office, Hunn said.

If they enroll in and complete the program, the charges are dismissed, she said.

Requirements of the program may include probation, community service, educational requirements such as Students' Health Alcohol and Drug Education (SHADE), and a fee for the program, Hunn said.

Last semester about 200 students were referred to the program, she said

In 1996, there were 284 liquor arrests made on campus, the majority of which were for minor in possession, Hueston said.

The number was down from the 1995 total of 323 arrests and the 1994 total of 319, he said.

If a minor is stopped by the Tucson Police Department, they face either a written or verbal warning, Hueston said.

Yet there are consequences beyond legal action a student should consider before he or she drinks.

A study released by the American College Health Association showed that the higher the average number of drinks a student has per week, the lower their GPA, said Susan Ainsworth, director of communications at ACHA.

More than two-thirds of men involved in sexual assault at one university had been drinking at the time of the incident, as well as half of their female victims, Ainsworth said.

Studies of suicide victims in the general population indicate about one-fifth of such victims are alcoholics, Ainsworth said.

Forty percent of all traffic fatalities are alcohol-related, Ainsworth said.

Yet Stephanie Ives, a Health Educator at the Campus Health Center, said: "We focus on the positive, rather than the negative."

She said the Campus Health programs try to focus on those students who have not had to deal with such consequences and promote that image as the norm.

Ives said 64 percent of UA students have four or fewer drinks when they go out.

Also, 77 percent of UA students have not reported any serious personal problems as a result of alcohol or other drug use, she said.

"It is very easy to be misled by the perception that every student is drinking heavily because of the behavior of a few students," she said.

Incoming freshmen should realize that this perception is not the norm, she said.

In addition to the positive outlook embraced by Campus Health educators, alcohol and drug education classes are offered.

Campus Health also sponsors several alcohol awareness campaigns, such as Alcohol Awareness Week, run largely through the residence halls.

Free counseling is available through Health Promotions in Old Main.

Support is also available through Counseling and Psychological Services in Campus Health, which also offers support groups for drug addiction.

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