Student Life staff, police hold dialogue with students on alcohol rules

Student Life staff members and police wanted to advise students about staying safe and avoiding alcohol abuse. Students wanted to learn how to steer clear of trouble when hosting parties. When the two groups got together recently in a series of informal talks at local apartment complexes, everybody won. Details...

The meetings were a joint effort between the university and the town. Town of Elon police accompanied campus officers, along with staff from judicial affairs and the substance education office, as the group passed out “Party Smart Checklist” magnets with suggestions for organizing safe events.

Suggestions included:

1.)    Keep it small (with 25 or fewer guests).
2.)    Know the guests you bring inside your home.
3.)    Designate a sober host.
4.)    Provide food.
5.)    Use cans or plastic cups, not glass.
6.)    Keep the noise level reasonable.
7.)    Connect with neighbors before the party.

“We just want students to make smart, healthy choices,” said Lauren Martin, coordinator for substance education at Elon. “Keep it small. And, most importantly, know who’s at your party.”

The university is making a renewed push against excessive and illegal drinking this year with higher fines for underage alcohol possession, parental notifications and restrictions on study abroad travel for students found guilty of frequent or severe rule violations.

President Leo M. Lambert publicly emphasized the university’s focus on alcohol abuse when he addressed staff and faculty before students arrived on campus last month, then again at New Student Convocation five days later.

“Binge drinking is simply inconsistent with our values as an academic community,” Lambert said Aug. 25 to freshmen and parents at convocation. “Decisions to abuse alcohol are in effect decisions to lower your academic goals.”

New this year is a policy that protects students from punishment if they call for help should a friend show symptoms of alcohol poisoning, like shallow breathing, a pale or bluish complexion and cold, clammy skin.

Students who choose not to drink are also protected under an “innocent bystander” rule. If authorities interrupt a party, underage guests who show no signs of drinking alcohol will not be penalized, though the host faces consequences for guests’ illegal behavior.

Efforts continue next month when counselors and police make visits to off-campus neighborhoods with a history of loud parties. Like the apartment visits at the start of the semester, these, too, are meant to teach students the expectations expected of them as part of the Elon University community.

“Our next phase is to target specific streets and houses where Elon students reside,” said Whitney Pack, assistant director for judicial affairs. “We plan to work with the Town Police to identify areas in the Town of Elon where we can leverage our resources in order to educate students regarding community standards and responsibilities.”