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Monday, April 14, 11:57 a.m.
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Alcohol violations on campus

The widening problem of binge drinking in America´s colleges have proved to have damaging effects mentally and physically to the human body.
Matthew Stepp.
The widening problem of binge drinking in America´s colleges have proved to have damaging effects mentally and physically to the human body.


Monday:

P1. Defining Alcohol poisoning.

Wednesday (online Monday):

P2. Examining the effects.

Friday (online Wednesday):

P3. Legal issues surrounding alcohol.



The number of alcohol violations on the University of Maine campus is steadily increasing. Public Safety Officer Chris Gardner said the increase is not necessarily the result of more students drinking on campus, but rather police officer are becoming more aware.

“Our philosophy is that when we handle these calls our main concern is for the student’s safety,” Gardner said. “There aren’t too many weeks that go by that you can’t find an alcohol-related death on a college campus – it’s a serious problem.”

When University Volunteer Ambulance Corps responds to a call, Public Safety is notified and is usually first on the scene. Gardner said the majority of calls Public Safety receives on the weekends are alcohol-related.

“A lot of people don’t make the call because they don’t want to get in trouble,” Mark Jackson, director of student health at Cutler Health Center said.

Gardner said officers face this same problem when they arrive at a scene.

“People are reluctant to tell us anything, they see us as an authority figure [rather] than there to help,” Gardner said. “We try to find out what and how much [the student] has been drinking. Also if [the student] has been taking any medication which could react with alcohol, or doing any other drugs, so we can help the ambulance and medical personnel.”

Legal problems can arise in many alcohol-related situations. If the person is a minor he can be summons for a civil violation of possession, said Gardner. A first time violation is a mandatory $100 fine, possibly up to $300. But that’s not the only problem.

“One thing we always ask in the case of a minor is where they got the alcohol and then we follow up on that information,” Gardner said . “The bottom line is that the ultimate responsibility is on who gave [the minor] the alcohol or provided a place to drink.”

Another common problem occurs when a person has been drinking at a party, leaves and gets an OUI or assaults someone, Gardner said. The people providing the place for others to drink are just as much at fault.

“Most students don’t consider if they throw a party and 75 people show up, that [there are] 75 chances that something bad could happen,” Gardner said.

Some students are concerned that their parents will be contacted. If a minor is caught with alcohol his parents are always contacted, Gardner said. But if a person calls UVAC for help and is of legal age he is then covered by medical confidentiality and such information is not released.

“Most colleges and universities in New England are starting to change that and are calling parents [regardless of the student's age] for serious crimes and alcohol and drug violations,” Gardner said. “It is something this university has looked at but no decision has ever been made.”

Many programs are available on campus to help students with an alcohol problem. Cutler Health Center has a counseling center and Public Safety also offers programs and teaches classes about the dangers of alcohol.

“Our major concern is the student’s safety,” Gardner said. “We want to make sure [the student] gets plugged into the services available at his/her university as soon as possible.”