Campus alcohol policy: show or tell?
Carl Bachus | Collegio Reporter
At the beginning of every year, many incoming students experiencing their first taste of freedom are met with a stern warning from the local and campus police departments. But tradition suggests that the increased police presence is just for show.
Mike McCracken, director of the university police and parking department, is adamant that the campus police and the Pittsburg local law enforcement are very proactive in the enforcement of state and local laws pertaining to alcohol.
“Besides deploying extra officers during certain events such as Opening Weekend,” said McCracken, “we have taken a ‘zero tolerance’ stance regarding alcohol violations that occur within the residence halls and in other areas on campus.”
Junior Sara Joseph, however, thinks that the increase in patrol cars at the beginning of the year is more for show than anything else.
“I think it is to show students that there are consequences for doing illegal things,” said Joseph, junior in commercial graphics, “Especially for the new freshman that are getting their first taste of freedom.”
McCracken maintains that PSU takes its alcohol policy very seriously, throwing in the term ‘zero tolerance’ around two more times, and stressed the importance of alcohol awareness.
“Alcohol awareness and education programs are very important tools that we also use to help reduce alcohol abuse on campus,” McCracken said, “The PSU Office of Prevention and Wellness located in the Overman Student Center is a great resource for students who have questions or issues regarding alcohol.”
Joseph recalled a time when an event, called “Shark Week,” was shut down by the local law enforcement and prompted increased police presence during the first few weeks of school.
“If the goal of law enforcement is to eliminate underage drinking then I do not think they are doing enough to accomplish this goal,” Joseph said, “However, if their goal is to control underage drinking they may be doing a pretty good job. By showing their presence the first few weeks of school they are definitely making an impression on students.”
The police are unable to enter a fraternity and sorority houses without probable cause but still patrol Broadway and Joplin, handing out minor-in-possession and minor-in-consumption charges to underage drinkers caught in the act. Alcohol possession the university housing can lead to a $1,000 fine and/or up to six months in jail.