In 2012, 634 students were documented for liquor law violations on campus, according to the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics. Chief of Public Safety David Barger said this number has increased over the past few years.
“The numbers have gone up, but they go up because our population is rising,” Barger said. “They haven’t gone up exponentially, but they’ve gone up geometrically based on the fact that if you have more students, you’re going to have more of something.”
Although it may seem like more and more students are drinking underage, Barger said he feels the increase in liquor law violations is also because Public Safety and the Residential Life staff are more aware of what is occurring.
“I think the problem lies in that many of the students for the first time in 18 years are on their own,” Barger said. “Some of that behavior can be expected…they’re going to experiment, and alcohol is something that they’re going to experiment with.”
About 25 percent of college students report academic consequences from drinking including missing class, falling behind, doing poorly on exams or papers and receiving lower grades overall, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
“Underage drinking should never be tolerated, but I believe students 21 years or older can drink in moderation and still live a positive lifestyle,” Joe Vazquez, a 22-year-old senior criminal justice major said. “Alcohol can easily be abused and if you can control how much and often you drink your grades shouldn’t be negatively affected.”
The Alcohol and Drug policy in the Student Handbook states, “Students are expected to act in a manner that neither abuses nor endangers themselves or others and refrain from behavior that is disorderly or destructive in nature. Students also must understand that conduct that interferes with the rights of others and/or demonstrates disregard for the University community is not tolerated.”
Barger said he feels all students are aware of the university’s policy on alcohol after taking Alcohol.edu and QU101.
“Every student that arrives here is made aware of the policy through those courses,” Barger said. “The better question that might be asked is do we need to do more in terms of alcohol education?”
Barger said he hopes the university will manage to create a continuing alcohol education program in the future, but there is no promise of this plan yet.
Freshman Violeta Almarales said she is aware of the university’s alcohol policy and does not think the university needs to provide further alcohol education.
“I think it would be a waste of time because, even if students did go to it, they would ignore the whole program because they will still want to drink,” Almarales said.
Senior Kristin Foley said she thought the Alcohol.edu program was a waste of time in itself.
“I already knew all of the things we learned on there from health class and my mom,” Foley said.
Foley said she is aware of the university’s policy on alcohol and thinks it is fair.
“We’re mildly tame here as compared to other schools,” Foley said. “I think the policy should be taken seriously, but we’re not out of control.”
Kristine Guest was in the middle of her junior year at Quinnipiac University when she lost her life in an alcohol-induced snowmobiling incident in 2005 at Paul Smith College in upstate New York. She was a sober passenger on a snowmobile driven by her intoxicated friend.
“Kristine was never that girl that was inclined to drinking,” her father Stephen Guest said. “Because my daughter didn’t want to join in with what was going on at the school with regards to drinking, she was almost exiled to her room on weekends because she wanted to stay away from that.”
Guest says colleges and universities need to step up their policies against underage drinking.
“I believe that colleges need to do a better job of enhancing the alcohol-free environment, such as implementing regular weekend activities that are free of alcohol,” Guest said. “There needs to be an effort by the college administration that target those not pre-disposed to drinking so that they have a social outlet where alcohol doesn’t need to be at the center of the activities.”
Although Foley looked surprised to hear Kristine’s story, she said she feels this accident was more of a fluke and would probably not happen here.
“This school is pretty safe,” Foley said. “We have the shuttle options, and Public Safety will even pick you up. There’s never a time here where someone would feel forced to drink and drive.”