On-campus alcohol incidents down 16 percent

A “parent incident” is the report of alcohol in a room on campus. A “child incident” is the number of people involved in each parent incident.

Linda Stocum

Alcohol-related incidents in residence halls at Kent State fell 16 percent for Fall 2016, despite the rising popularity of Kent drinking holidays like ‘Fake Patty’s Day.’

Brian Hellwig, assistant director of Residence Services, said police involvement in drinking on campus has helped deter students.

“Probably about five or six years ago we instituted a new policy where we would call the police if there were alcohol parties on campus, and since we’ve done that, (alcohol-related incidents) have been going down every year since then,” Hellwig said.

Hellwig said the policy was implemented to address an increase in alcohol parties on campus and unsafe behavior that could be harmful to students.

“We saw a big spike in the number of severe alcohol-related incidents on campus,” Hellwig said. “We had a person walk around naked outside because they were so intoxicated.”

If a student is caught drinking on campus, there is a conduct process they go through to determine how harmful their actions were to other students, and Residence Services wants students to understand the impact of their actions.

“This is typically a meeting with the residence hall director,” said Kevin Mowers, the associative director of Residence Services. “The outcome of these meetings will vary because of the needs of each (of) the students.”

Mowers said students are held to the same standards on a Thursday night as they are on drinking holidays such as Halloween and ‘Fake Patty’s Day.’

“Our priority is to make sure that student safety is present every single day,” Mowers said.

Mowers also said Residence Services takes more precautions on days where students partake in day-drinking festivities.

“For nights in which we anticipate a higher level of activity such as ‘Fake Patty’s Day,’ we do have additional staff members on hand to help address these concerns,” Mowers said. “In addition, in weeks leading up to high activity nights, we take every advantage of talking with our students about the decisions that they make, as well as our expectations for their behavior.”

Leah Thompson, a sophomore visual communication design major who lives in Olson Hall, said students understand there are consequences and expectations when it comes to drinking, but they do not care.

“They don’t think they will get caught, and they want to enjoy their full college experience and that usually involves drinking,” Thompson said.

However, she said she understands why the university cannot allow students to drink in halls.

“While it is illegal letting students drink in the halls because of the drinking age, having the residents being able to drink in a safe environment would be better than them finding alternative places to drink,” Thompson said.

Vanessa Allen, another sophomore visual communication design major who lives in Olson Hall, said students deal with the stress of college in different ways, and as long as they are being respectful to their neighbors, they should be allowed to drink.

“Whatever the situation may be, I think students need to be able to have the freedom to do whatever they so please in the privacy of their own rooms as long as they keep quiet hours in mind and are respectful and responsible in their actions,” Allen said.

Allen said respect is what makes the issue so important.

“I feel that if residents are respectful of their neighbors and are drinking responsibly, having alcohol in the dorms should not be a huge issue,” Allen said. “On the other hand, when it is 2 a.m. and students are trying to sleep, I think those who are drinking have the responsibility of respecting quiet hours and should have consequences if they are causing a disturbance.”

If a student is drinking in their room and not bothering the rest of the dorm, Allen said drinking is not an issue.

“Drinking in residence halls is, personally, not an issue, unless a group is doing so irresponsibly and disturbing those around them,” Allen said.

There are only three halls on campus that students of legal age are allowed to drink, including McDowell, Engleman and Centennial Court C.

Mowers said Residence Services wants students to keep in mind the actions they make today can affect their future.

“The decision that students make now, whether good or bad, will have a direct connection to their success as a student and in life,” Mowers said.

Linda Stocum is the room and board reporter, contact her at [email protected]