Jan 252005
Authors: Stephanie Lindberg

When Lucy Jones was a freshman living in the residence halls, she said policies for underage drinking were fairly lax.

"I don't think they're as strict as say (the University of Colorado)," said Jones, now a senior music major. "You can get caught three times before you get a ticket."

CSU Police Department officer Yvonne Paez said there is no set policy to determine who gets a ticket for a violation and who does not – that discretion is left up to the officer who responds to a call.

"We wouldn't be called if it wasn't an emergency," Paez said. "Generally at the time we don't cite them if they are incoherent. We may contact them the next day but it's at the officer's discretion. If we're there on an assist we often won't give a ticket. We're not in the business of handing out tickets to someone who is incoherent."

Paez said there are several factors in which officers assess in deciding what to do with a drunken student, underage or not.

"Our first concern is the health of the student," Paez said.

On an average weeknight, Paez said the department issues a couple of tickets for underage drinking. On a weekend that number usually doubles. The department sees approximately one detox run a week.

Brittany Garner remembers the night she witnessed an underage student getting caught in violation of the no-alcohol policy in the residence halls.

"I think the drunk person was running around the hall and ran back to the room," said Garner, a sophomore history major. "The (resident assistants) made him throw it away but before he threw it away he chugged most of it."

As a result of the violation the student was written-up by the resident assistant, and that was the end of the matter, Garner said.

Alcohol is not allowed in the residence halls regardless of age. Not even students 21 and older may not have alcohol in their rooms.

If a student is caught in violation of the no-alcohol policy he or she may have to talk with the hall director or RA to be reminded of the alcohol policies. If it is determined that more measures need to be taken with students after they are cited, the office of Conflict Resolutions and Student Conduct Services is the next step.

"What we're trying to do is hold students accountable," said Craig Chesson, the assistant director of the office.

Chesson said the office sees around 500 cases of underage drinking during the school year.

"Most of the students are aware of the policies," Chesson said. "It's part of the risk taking they're going to experiment with. 'Hey, it's risky' and 'hey, I'll try it.'"

Chesson said he works with students to determine what is the best course of action.

"I try to see if they need any more help," Chesson said.

One program at CSU is the Day Four Program, which is a treatment and education program for students who have problems with drugs or alcohol where they meet with a counselor. If they need more treatment, Chesson said the office help students with enrolling in a treatment program outside of the university.

One of the biggest problems with underage drinking is the lack of education, Chesson said, something that needs to be dealt with before students arrive at CSU.

"More awareness (is needed) and not at a college level," Chesson said. "It needs to be done earlier before they get here. No tolerance or zero tolerance doesn't work."

Paez said CSUPD wants people to know that it is okay to call them for help with a friend.

"We don't want to give the message to don't call because we don't want to get them in trouble (or the message that) if you're going to drink, drink yourself into oblivion because that's the only way you're going to get help," Paez said. "We'd like to encourage responsible drinking."

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