AU students will now be subject to disciplinary action by the university when police cite them for underage drinking or other crimes that occur off campus, Dean of Students Faith Leonard wrote in a letter that will be released to students tomorrow.
“I am writing to remind you that a ‘violation of local, state or federal law’ is a violation of the Student Conduct Code (Section VI, H). When police respond to a neighborhood disturbance, document the incident and inform the university, the university reserves the right to adjudicate these activities under the Code,” Leonard wrote. She cited underage drinking, providing alcohol to minors and disorderly conduct as crimes committed off-campus that may be adjudicated by the university.
The university will begin prosecuting any crimes that occur from Friday evening on, according to Associate Dean of Students Sara Waldron.
Administrators decided to begin enforcing this provision of the code because the number of students cited for off-campus drinking has increased dramatically in the last few years, according to Waldron. Additionally, since Aug. 17, police have broken up four high-profile off-campus parties, according to Waldron. At one party, 26 AU students were cited for underage drinking.
Additionally, the number of complaints that the university received from neighborhood residents about off-campus parties increased.
“The neighbors have become really vigilant and hyper-sensitive,” Waldron said.
Prior to this change, if the university became aware that a student had been cited for off-campus underage drinking, Waldron would call the student and discuss the situation with him or her, she said.
Rick Edwards, director of the Student Advocacy Center, said he expects to have increased business as a result of the new enforcement of on-campus punishment for off-campus citations. He declined to speculate on a specific numeric change in the number of students who will use SAC’s services.
Leonard, Waldron and Gail Hanson, vice president of Campus Life, notified Edwards of the change this morning, he said.
Edwards said he hoped the university would pursue disciplinary action based on concrete evidence and not a “he said, she said” basis.
Students convicted of violations of AU’s alcohol policy face punishment ranging from nothing to expulsion, according to Edwards. He said most students are sentenced to drug and alcohol education, community service, a paper on civility or disciplinary probation.
One AU student had mixed feelings about the policy.
“I understand why the university is doing it because I know other universities have similar policies,” said Rachel Rosenthal, a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. “I don’t think it’s necessarily their business unless it’s interfering with the reputation of the university, my academic performance or the personal safety of another student.”
Eagle Staff Writer Jimm Phillips contributed to this report.