Under-21 alcohol violations on rise

The number of alcohol-related violations for students under 21 at Oswego State has doubled since 2007.

Lisa Evaneski, director of judicial affairs, said there could be several reasons for the increase in the number of violations.

"We have a few more students living on campus," Evaneski said. "We are getting more and more cases referred to us from off campus. There are a lot of things that can impact our numbers."

"We did some training with the residence hall stuff to handle cases in a certain way that would also account for the increase in numbers," she added. "We are seeing more and more students in the judicial system in general."

A violation can be anything from a student being found in the presence of alcohol, to disruptive behavior related to alcohol. Penalties depend on the severity of the incident. When off-campus violations occur, Oswego City Police contact University Police, who send a report to Judicial Affairs. Capt. Michael Beckwith, of the Oswego City Police, said that a letter is also sent home to parents and a copy of the incident report is sent to Chief Cynthia Adam of U.P. Beckwith added that one of the biggest problems he has observed among intoxicated students is public urination.

The Student Handbook and the Resident Student Handbook outlines the procedures that take place after a student receives an alcohol-related violation.

"Yes, there are policies that have to be dealt with," said Richard Kolenda, director of Residence Life and Housing. "But we certainly don’t want a tragic accident because someone drank more then they should have"

According to Kolenda, students are going to off-campus parties and drinking as much as they want. The problem comes when students return to campus and get sick, signaling the need for possible medical attention.

"It’s a good thing that their roommates and friends are making the call to the R.A. or SAVAC so that nobody gets in the situation where something tragic might happen," Kolenda said.

When SAVAC is sent out, U.P. is called every time. According to John Rossi, assistant chief, a situation involving alcohol that requires medical attention is dealt with as a health issue. U.P. refers those cases to Judicial Affairs, where the report is reviewed.

If U.P. is able to determine who supplied the alcohol to underage students, they will follow up on the case and try to make an arrest.

"We’re concerned about the safety of the students," Kolenda said

R.A.’s are given Alcohol and Other Drugs (A.O.D.) training every year with supplemental training in January.

Residence halls put on programs through A.O.D. to educate students about alcohol. These programs include "Mocktails" in Waterbury Hall, "40 oz. to Consequences" in Riggs Hall and "Goldfish Pong" in Oneida Hall.

"Most of the time, the people [students] that attend these programs don’t need them," Kolenda said.

There are a number of other programs on campus that give students an alternative to drinking. "Lakerfest," held during the first month of classes, provides students an outlet to have fun that doesn’t involve alcohol. There is also "Saturday Night Fever," "Splash in Movie" at Lee Hall and karaoke in the Campus Center throughout the fall and spring semesters. However, no new programs have been introduced to dissuade students from underage drinking.

"It’s a matter of students making the choice and when they do make the choice, we hold them to the consequences," Kolenda said.

"There are a lot of efforts campus wide to reduce underage drinking and the negative secondary effects," said Evaneski. "Also, the Office of Judicial Affairs attends each new student orientation session during the summer to educate students about the policies and what our expectations are of them as members of this community."