Drug, alcohol policy violators to see changes

By Matt Liparota

DeKALB | This year, students will see some changes to the way drug and alcohol violations are handled at a university level.

The major change students will see is in the way violations are punished. Each offense now carries what is called a “minimum sanction.” The minimum sanctions are specific to the type of violation, such as violence or alcohol, and whether the violation is the first, second or third offense.

For example, all students caught violating the university’s alcohol policy for the first time will be subject to a referral to Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students (BASICS) and a $50 fine. Punishments are more severe for second and third offenders.

“We’re not doing anything we haven’t done in previous years,” said John Jones, associate vice president for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management. “We’re being more intentional.”

This new way of approaching punishment for violations is meant to offer some degree of consistency for the way the office handles these situations, Jones said.

The new punishments don’t necessarily apply uniformly in every situation; they act as a starting point, Jones said. Harsher punishments can be added to the minimum sanctions.

“Hearing officers have some autonomy,” Jones said. “They can apply sanctions they feel are appropriate.”

According to a sanctions grid on the Community Standards and Conduct website, most violations are based on a three-strike basis. In most cases, the minimum sanction for a third violation is suspension or expulsion from the university.

The one listed case in which this is not true is in instances of “prohibited sexual contact” or rape. In these instances, the minimum sanction for a second offense is expulsion.

Upon the third physical abuse or weapons offense, violators will be expelled from the university and prohibited from setting foot on campus. Other third offense sanctions – including verbal or threatening abuse, alcohol, drug and harassment violations – will suspend students from campus for at least one academic year.

This mission, he said, is reflected in a letter written to students by Brian Hemphill, vice president for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management.

“As an institution, we are committed to the value of your education and personal development,” Hemphill wrote. “These standards provide evidence that we refuse to be bystanders to conduct that is disruptive to the University environment.”