UMaine Public Safety recently joined a national campaign aimed at discouraging students from operating a motor vehicle under the influence of intoxicants, commonly referred to as an OUI. Posters promoting the campaign have been placed all over campus.
One poster reads, “Most employers understand missing work because you’re sick. Missing work because you’re in jail, that, they’re not so good with.” In smaller print it adds “Jail can mess up your life in a whole lot of ways.”
The point of the poster is to inform students that if you are charged with OUI there will be negative professional repercussions. Its intention is to say you will get chastised at your job or even fired for getting an OUI. This is the only way to read the poster, not a loose interpretation.
If anyone can find another way to read this poster, write to me and I will print it in the next issue.
However, despite what these posters say, UMaine does not have a policy to punish employees convicted of drunk driving.
Let me make this crystal-clear: The same school that is putting up posters that say drunk drivers are punished at work does not punish its employees when they are convicted of driving drunk.
Some UMaine employees do find themselves on the bright end of a patrolmans flashlight. Michael McCollum, director of corporate sales for the UMaine Athletics marketing department, was convicted over the summer driving while intoxicate. He still works here. Student conduct officer David Fiacco was convicted of drunken driving not long before UMaine hired him
For those of you who aren’t up on the news, David Fiacco is filing an emotional distress lawsuit against a fraternity for informing people about, among other things, his drunken driving conviction. Notice this is not a libel suit, since he was convicted of drunk driving, and you can’t sue for libel when it’s true.
Reading the words “emotional distress” in the context of a convicted drunken driver’s record becoming public made me sick. If convicted drunken driver David Fiacco wants to know what emotional distress really feels like, he should try growing up without a mother because the nice salesman had too many before he got behind the wheel. David, if you can’t deal with other people knowing that you endangered lives, then maybe casual manslaughter attempts aren’t for you.
Fiacco waited a few years after the fraternity released his criminal record before launching the lawsuit. He even tried to sue the investigator they hired, presumably for investigating, but that was thrown out of court.
As far as I know, Fiacco has yet to cause bodily harm to anyone. It doesn’t matter: he is just as guilty to me. The only reason “manslaughter” isn’t on his criminal record is because not enough people were on the road that night.
Fiacco and his lawyer are using a frivolous lawsuit to try to profit from his horrible, illegal behavior. Does university administration even know about this lawsuit? Has he gotten a memo that says, “Hey David, great kegger last night, but you need to forget the lawsuit. You’re making us look like a bunch of hypocrites. Do you know how many of those damn posters we put up?” The fact that he is the student conduct officer, the judge, jury and executioner of Judicial Affairs, only darkens this bloodstain on UMaine’s reputation.
Domino’s pizza won’t hire delivery drivers that have a single OUI on their record, and will fire any that get convicted. Sure, this isn’t a fair comparison since their job revolves around safely driving and they don’t require the same credentials as a university does. Still, it can be said that a pizza delivery chain has higher employee standards than our university.
UMaine has a program to help employees combat their substance abuse problems. UMaine also offers students a no-questions-asked van to drive them home if they shouldn’t be driving. Both these actions discourage drunk driving and I applaud them. However, this doesn’t give the school leeway to make false claims.
The message students receive from these double standards is cloudy. Freshmen now know that you can get an OUI and still go on to a successful career. You could be the director of corporate sales for athletics, the UMaine conduct officer or even the president of the United States of America.
Michael Hartwell is a senior journalism major and was recently honored by the Maine Press Association.