This past school year at the University of Michigan (U of M), the world-renowned university tried something a little different when dealing with underage drinking. It was the first year that they decided to inform the parents of first year students if they were caught with alcohol twice during the year. Even though the vast majority of first year students are legal adults (18+) and therefore their parents are not required by law to be informed of anything, this was something that other Big 10 universities had put in place. By having this policy, the University of Michigan hopes to curb the use of alcohol in the student body, and therefore keep its students safer.
Vice president for Student Life, Evan Royster sent out the following email regarding the new school policy. "We will notify parents of first-year students when a student under the age of 21 has had a second alcohol or drug violation or when a first-year student has committed a violation accompanied by other serious behavior such as needing medical attention, significant property damage or driving under the influence," the email read. "At U-M, we strive to create a caring community. The safety of our students is our No. 1 priority. Our actions are intended to reduce the risk of harm and increase the safety of every student."
One of the reasons for this policy being put in place was due to the spike in alcohol and drug related matters. During the 2013-2014 school year, there were 404 alcohol and drug incidents, while the following year jumped up to 465 incidents. These incidents could range anywhere from a student being hospitalized for alcohol poisoning to a student being arrested for being in the possession of illegal narcotics. Of course, these numbers are only of the students that got "caught" and not the entire use of the substances at the university.
Even though the University of Michigan put this new policy in place, other universities in Michigan have not been reported to follow suit. According to the Michigan State University (MSU), the school is not expected to put any policy like U of M's anytime soon. Michigan State University spokesman Jason Cody has said the school does not see contacting parents as a form of prevention. He has said that the school has other programs targeted to first year students about underage drinking/drug use, and he doesn't believe contacting parents will be a deterrent.
MSU should consider however, that implementing this policy may also be a good idea because it may help deter drunk driving accidents. Some first year students come to campus with vehicles given to them by their parents. If parents are informed of their student's illegal drinking, they may be able to provide consequences to the student by taking back their cars, even if they can't stop them from drinking. This not only serves as a punishment, making it so that students may give up drinking to get their driving privileges back, but this also helps parents prevent their students from becoming involved in dangerous drunk driving car crashes.
The policy that the University of Michigan has put in place will hopefully deter underage drinking at the school. Although it won’t completely solve the problem, it will cause some first year students to think twice about drinking alcohol if they don't want to risk their parents being contacted. Thus this is an important step taken in order to keep everyone safe at the university. After all, a mother's disappointment is the oldest trick in the book to getting people to do the right thing.
If you or someone you know has been involved in a motor vehicle accident due to underage drinking, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC. Our attorneys are experienced in handling many types of auto accident cases, including those involving alcohol. Call us today, at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation.