Drug and Alcohol Violation Fees Increased

Kurt Hanlon

The Dean of Students Office increased fines and fees associated with campus alcohol and drug violations last Tuesday. Fines for first and second alcohol violations as well as the first drug violation have increased by $50 dollars, while fees for two of the related mandatory educational courses have increased by $25.

The Code of Conduct includes several instances that are considered alcohol violations, including underage drinking, drunk driving and possessing or drinking alcohol in public areas on campus. Drug violations include possessing, using and selling drugs, as well as possessing items commonly associated with drug use, such as bongs, bowls and “homemade” smoking devices.

Georgia Southern relies on a three strike policy when it comes to alcohol violations. A first offense results in a $150 fine, three months disciplinary probation and enrollment in a $50 Alcohol Skills Training Program (ASTP). A violation during the probationary period could result in suspension or even expulsion from the university. A second offense results in a $200 fine, a $100 ASTP course, and a six month probation. A third violation may also result in suspension or expulsion.

There are only two chances when it comes to drug violations, and the punishment relies heavily on the amount and type of drug. Possessing less than one ounce of marijuana will result in a $200 fine, six months disciplinary probation and a $50 drug education course. A second violation will result in suspension for a minimum of one semester, regardless of the amount of time between incidents. Any violation dealing with more than one ounce of marijuana or the possession of any other drug is punishable by a full year suspension from the university.

Fees and fines may be waived if a student is found to qualify for the Amnesty Policy. The policy provides amnesty from conduct violation fees to students who are in desperate need of help, and also provides amnesty to those who call help for another student. However, those involved will have to attend a meeting, where educational and support options will be explored.

“We don’t want any student to be in a situation where they feel they can’t get help, and it turns into a dire situation where they end up losing their life.” says Dr. Mark Whitesel, Associate Dean and Director of Student Conduct. Whitesel stresses that this policy is only for life threatening situations. “The spirit is to get people to call for help when they really need it,” he says. “It can’t be about other things, like ‘I got arrested’ or something.”

Amnesty may also be granted to victims of a crime that take place while the victim is in violation of a policy. “Say that you were consuming alcohol or used some kind of drug, and you were the victim of a theft, or property damage or sexual assault,” says Whitesel. “We don’t want anything that’s going to stand in someone’s way by violation of the code from reporting that.”

Part of the Amnesty policy includes a Safe Harbor rule, which allows students who think they may have an addiction problem the ability to confidentially admit this to University officials without fear of punishment.

The decision to increase the fines was not a sudden decision. “Drugs and alcohol are a prevalent issue that all University conduct offices address,” says Whitesel. “This summer…we looked at a number of institutions across the country…to see where we fell and we determined we were in the lower middle [range of alcohol and drug violation fees]. We found an opportunity to place a deterrent to help students make better choices.”

Other events, such as freshman Michael Gatto’s death last fall also led to the decision. “Whenever something like that happens,” says Whitesel, “everybody kind of raises their awareness and says ‘Hey there may be some issues here, and what can we do?’”

First Offense Alcohol Violation

$150.00 fine (formerly $100.00)

$50.00 fee for educational course (stayed the same)

Second Offense Alcohol Violation

$200.00 fine (formerly $150.00)

$50.00 fee for educational course (formerly $25.00)

First Offense of Drugs (marijuana less than an ounce)

$200.00 fine (formerly $150.00)

$50.00 fee for educational course (formerly $25.00)