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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato


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MSSA recommends alcohol policy changes

Senate calls for more compromise

by Dannie Higginbotham

Issue date: 04/09/09 Section: Campus News
After a lengthy discussion and multiple amendments and corrections, the Minnesota State Student Association passed a recommendation for the university regarding the off-campus alcohol and drug policy.

The recommendation calls for greater cooperation between university officials and students to create an alcohol policy that suits the needs of the students and university

It also asks the university to be the lead institution in forming a statewide higher education coalition on high-risk drinking; for a program like e-Chug to be made a part of freshmen orientation and for the university to concentrate its efforts on prevention and intervention strategies rather than reactive consequences.

The policy also suggested making an attempt to change attitudes and social norms regarding alcohol.

"We're going for policy by action," said Off-Campus Senator Brett Anderson. "We're using the resources we have to the best allocation we can."

College of Business Senator Jayme Pretzloff commended the recommendation, saying it encompassed many important issues that need to be addressed.

"We're taking big steps with the preventive technique," he said. "Let's let the cops do the policing."

The recommendation includes a clause asking the university not to reprimand students who receive a minor when they have a blood alcohol level under .08 percent, since they are practicing responsible drinking behavior.

"I think this is great," Pretzloff said. "This is for students who aren't high-risk drinking. It's not like they're doing keg stands or downing shots of cheap tequila."

The motion focuses on reprimanding students with repeated drug and alcohol violations, with action taken on the second offense for drug-related misdemeanors and the third offense for alcohol-related ones.

Some senators argued sanctions on the second alcohol-related offense would make the motion more likely to be favored by the university, however.

"We get so deep in conversation about this that we forget drinking underage is illegal," said Off-Campus Senator Abby Knott, who argued in favor of changing the number of violations to two. Knott said there would be no progress if the MSSA stuck to its guns and didn't offer any concessions.

"Action is better than inaction," she said.

Off-Campus Senator Thomas Williams voted to stick with the "third strike" rule.

"Drinking is not illegal for everyone, but drugs are," Williams said. "I think we should take a more lenient stance when it comes to alcohol."

MSSA President Ryan Anderson voted for action on the second alcohol misdemeanor, saying it was "the most palatable action."

Anderson said he understood students were angry about MSU's intrusion into their personal lives but also understood the university's concern about its party-school reputation.

"Ultimately this reputation affects students more in the long run," Anderson said.

The senate voted to keep the number of alcohol-related offenses at three.

The motion also included a clause asking for the on and off-campus alcohol policies to be more consistent.

"Making punishments [for on-campus violations] more severe may not be the answer, but the debate we've heard says that the university needs to review what they have," Anderson said.

The recommendation quoted facts from a 250-page government study about alcohol and alcohol policies. While the facts were originally included in resolutions for the motion, the senate voted to remove them and keep them only as supportive information.

Another resolution said the senate did not support any MSU sanctions against students receiving a social host violation, saying although a place for drinking was provided, high-risk drinking was not promoted, which is what the university is trying to fight.

Dannie Higginbotham is the Reporter assistant news editor