Jan 272005
Authors: Lila Hickey

Students living off campus can breath easier after Thursday's CSU Alcohol Task Force meeting, the last in a series of discussions about various alcohol-related issues at CSU and in Fort Collins.

One recommendation brought before the task force suggested both freshmen and sophomore students be restricted to on-campus housing, and that juniors and seniors be assigned housing in the community.

"The way this is worded suggests students live on campus for two years," said Linda Kuk, vice president for student affairs. Kuk said upper-classmen would be allowed to live in "relegated" off-campus housing.

Since the recommendation was only a suggestion, the majority of the task force voted in favor of passing it on to CSU President Larry Penley.

"I think that asking to explore an option shouldn't be killed before Penley has a chance to see it," said Dennis Harrison, Fort Collins chief of police, during a pre-vote discussion.

But the proposal failed. All recommendations before the task force were required to have fewer than three "nay" votes to pass. More than three members of the task force opposed it, so the housing recommendation failed and will not be passed on to Penley.

The recommendation on student housing was the only one that failed completely, although some other recommendations required modifications.

"The only one that failed completely on its own merit was the housing one," said Katie Clausen, president of the Associated Students of CSU and a member of the task force.

Clausen was pleased the recommendation failed and would not be in the group's report to Penley.

"I am very happy that the task force was able to see that that's not a viable option," she said. "I know it's not something the students would support."

The idea was forwarded to the task force from Subcommittee One, which was in charge of investigating alcohol-related policies, protocols and enforcement practices. A community member originally suggested it to the subcommittee.

The task force also recommended that the state legislature consider offering legal immunity to students who called 911 if they suspect a friend was suffering from alcohol poisoning, even if the drinker is underage.

The task force revised the recommendation because of concerns that the original wording might offer "blanket immunity" to persons not deserving leniency.

"Chief Harrison was concerned about those situations where someone could obtain immunity when they really didn't deserve it," said Mike Feeley, a commissioner for the Colorado Commission of Higher Education.

The recommendation was reworded to say students involved in illegal drinking practices who called 911 in an alcohol-related emergency would be "given consideration" when deciding whether to prosecute.

Larry Denmark, a rabbi, psychologist and addiction expert who served on the task force, expressed concerns about weakening the recommendation's language.

"I'm trying to picture a drunk student picking up the phone and saying, 'Well, I'll get consideration,' and still continuing to dial," he said.

The recommendation is already being considered in the Colorado General Assembly, sponsored by Rep. Angie Paccione, D-Fort Collins, and dubbed the "safe-haven drinking bill."

The task force also recommended that the university consider an alcohol awareness class students could take for university credit.

Other recommendations by the task force to Penley include:

* Educational programs for students about local alcohol-related ordinances

* Educational programs for students planning to move off campus

* A code of ethics for alcohol retailers regarding drink promotions

* The introduction of an alcohol awareness class at CSU

* The university identify "transition phases" for students and provide programs to help minimize negative effects during these times

The recommendations by the task force will be presented to Penley in a press conference Tuesday.

Penley formed the task force after the alcohol-related problems at the university including riots and the alcohol-related death of sophomore Samantha Spady in September.

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