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Minnesota State University, Mankato

Minnesota State University, Mankato

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Page address: http://www.mnsu.edu/mssa/news/html/Off-campus_alcohol_procedure.html

MSU off-campus alochol procedure still stands

by Dannie Higginbotham

Issue date: 10/16/08 Section: Campus News
It seems Minnesota State's new alcohol procedure will be sticking around for a while. In a presentation to the Minnesota State Student Association Wednesday, Vice President of Student Affairs Patricia Swatfager-Haney and Director of Student Rights and Responsibilities Mary Dowd discussed the procedural change - which entails on-campus disciplinary action for off-campus alcohol violations - and its impact on the university and community.

 "This year during the period of Aug. 31 to Sept. 21, we saw a five percent decrease in overall arrests," Dowd said.

 Dowd also noted that 152 students have been arrested for alcohol violations since the beginning of the school year. That figure is a 21 percent decrease from the number of students arrested last year by this time.

 These 152 students were subject to the university's disciplinary actions for alcohol violations, including the E-CHUG and CHOICES online programs and suspension.

 "The education we're providing for our students really makes a difference," Dowd said. "We've found that, with E-CHUG and CHOICES, the simple act of doing a survey and discussing it with a trained professional makes an impact on the student."

 Some senators disagreed with the E-CHUG and CHOICES programs, notably the service fee that goes along with them, which a few senators said was really a fine and unfair to give when the students would face additional fines from Blue Earth County.

 While the number of student arrests has gone down, the number of non-student arrests has risen to 144 - from 141 last year.

 "The city put pressure on the university to take action on the alcohol issue," said MSSA Vice President Murtaza Rajabali. "Now that non-student arrests have risen, should we put pressure on the city?"

Swatfager-Haney said the city is concerned about the issue and considered hiring a full-time coordinator to take on high-risk drinking.

 Alcohol and Drug Studies coordinator Roy Kammer, also discussed the university's plan to change the current alcohol policy.

 "My objective with the new policy is to make it work," Kammer said. "The current policy is eight pages long, so we want to sort it out and devise a new policy that works."

The revision would likely include the new procedure.

 Kammer said when the new policy has been drafted, it will go through a review process in which various university bargaining units and the student senate would be able to look it over.

 Swatfager-Haney and Dowd emphasized that the safety of students was their main priority.

 "College alcohol abuse is a serious problem," Dowd said. "This is the time when problems can develop."

 "We want to help students succeed both academically and personally," Swatfager-Haney said.

 The MSSA maintains its opposition for the new alcohol procedure. "I feel the university is taking advantage of the ambiguity of the current alcohol policy to have this procedure," Rajabali said.

 MSSA President Ryan Anderson agreed.

 "The goals of the university are admirable," Anderson said. "What they fail to recognize is the right to privacy. If a student is off-campus, they shouldn't have to face double punishment."


Dannie Higginbotham is a Reporter assistant news editor