Colleges alert parents of student alcohol use

By Jessie Hirsch, Contest Manager

Recently, several colleges and universities have changed their policies on alerting parents of students who engage in underage drinking. In the past, most schools only reported incidents in which the students were either arrested or hospitalized, but now they plan to notify parents before the situation becomes dangerous.

Starting this spring, Virginia Tech implemented a policy stating that if an underage student is caught with any type of alcohol, a letter will immediately be sent to that student’s parents.

“Many parents felt their involvement in such incidents was too late to affect the behavior of their student, so the university decided to inform parents of all alcohol-related incidents,” said Mark Owczarski, Virginia Tech Director of News and Information.

Due to years of alcohol-related incidents and violations of the Code of Conduct, Virginia Tech felt that a change was necessary.

“The hope is parental involvement will help some students from making multiple mistakes that could negatively impact their education,” Owczarski said.

However, not all schools have sought to change their policies. Montgomery College has had few problems with underage drinking, so a change is not needed.

“Our students don’t live on campus and the campuses close at 10 p.m., so we have not had any drinking incidents underage or otherwise at least in the past eight years that I’ve been at [Montgomery] College,” Director of Communications Alana Mauger said.

At American University, notification occurs when a student is thrown out of the residence halls, suspended or expelled, or at the specific judgment of the dean.

“Notification of parents or guardians in instances where students have been found responsible for alcohol or drug violations is carried out with consideration for the students’ interests,” a university spokesperson said.

However, a number of CHS students feel that new policies will not change college underage drinking.

“Most colleges don’t [really] care,” junior Sarah Lieber said. “People [are going to drink] anyway.”

While some students feel that college is a time in which students have the ability to make their own decisions, parent and Spanish teacher Stacye Steele-Yue believes stricter policies will be a preemptive strike against underage drinking.

“If kids knew that their parents would be told, some kids would think twice about it,” Steele-Yue said. “If my son was drinking and got caught, I’d want to know.”