Underage fines boost awareness programs

Officials have seen a decrease in repeat offenses of underage drinking. In January and February of this year, 73 individuals were reported for public intoxication or underage drinking by Campus Safety Services. This compares to

Officials have seen a decrease in repeat offenses of underage drinking.

In January and February of this year, 73 individuals were reported for public intoxication or underage drinking by Campus Safety Services. This compares to a total of 423 persons in 2011 and 634 in 2010.

But not all included in these numbers were handcuffed and taken to the station, given citations and then having to appear in front of a Philadelphia judge. In fact, when a student is found intoxicated publicly or under age, there are three possible courses of action: arrest, referral to the university Student Code of Conduct or being exceptionally cleared with no charges pressed. Ultimately, it is at the officer’s discretion which route to take.

This year, 13 of the 73 individuals were arrested, 50 were solely referred to SCC and 10 were cleared. And some of these arrests may even include non-student persons with no affiliation to Temple. Charlie Leone, deputy director of CSS, said in most cases, though, they are students.

“The majority of the people [who] get cited probably went a little overboard [with] their behavior, like not complying,” Leone said. “Most of the students who are complying wind up at SCC, or if they don’t appear too intoxicated, the officer has the discretion to just take their information.”

All arrested students receive a citation and are then processed through the Philadelphia court system. But students are processed through the Office of Student Conduct as well. To avoid students being fined twice, SCC accepts the student’s paid receipt from the city as payment to the university. The student is then only responsible for paying Temple the difference between the city fine and the pricier Temple fine.

The SCC jurisdiction extends 500 yards beyond the campus proper, allowing the office to process students caught off Main Campus, including busts by the Liquor Control Enforcement.

Geographically, Temple Police have found the 2000 block of Carlisle Street and the 2100 and 2200 blocks of Park Avenue to be repeatedly problematic areas around Main Campus, Leone said.

Rebekah Rhodes, assistant dean of students, said SCC first reviews the case, gathers additional information if needed and then decides if there is a basis for charging the student through the Code. If there is, the student is brought in for a hearing where it is decided whether the student is responsible for the alleged violations. If so, he or she is then subject to Temple’s mandatory minimum sanctions.

According to the Policies and Procedures Manual, these mandatory minimums for first-time drug or alcohol offenders include the notification of guardians, participation in Temple’s Drug and Alcohol Offense Program and disciplinary probation for 15 to 20 weeks. The student is also fined $250.

Upon second finding, the student undergoes individual assessment by DAO staff, extended probation, possible suspension or expulsion from residence halls and a $700 fine. And if caught three times, the student faces possible suspension or expulsion from Temple.

“With 30,000-plus students and you’ve been here three times, something’s up,” Leone said.

SCC recognizes that these fines are steep and some students may have trouble paying them, so in some cases, payment plans are implemented.

Among these punishments, the obligatory fines are alarming. But they haven’t always been this high. In fact, the revised Code of Conduct for the 2006-07 academic year increased fines for first and second offense from $50 and $100 to $250 and $500, respectively. Temple then underwent another fine increase during their regular code review in September 2009. First offense fines remained at $250, but the second offense rate rose to $700.

The increased fines are largely the result of student feedback.

“The students were saying [the fines] weren’t high enough to make an impact. I was shocked by that,” said Andrea Caporale, senior associate dean of students. “But the students who get in trouble and are fined have been more responsive to a higher fine, meaning they pay them right away or come to us and ask what they can do to pay it.”

And SCC has noticed decreased numbers of second and third time offenders since these hikes in fines, Caporale added.

During the 2008-09 academic year, 512 students were referred to SCC for alcohol violations and 41 were second or third time offenders. The next year, one year after second-offender fines increased to $700, 202 students were referred and 11 were second or third time offenders.

With these high fines, the Office of Student Conduct is collecting sizable amounts of money. But Caporale said fine money is not used for administrative costs, like salaries or office functioning. Instead, it is used for programming related to drug and alcohol prevention, like National Campus Safety Awareness Month in September and the recent Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event, she said.

“Money has also been given…[to] programs that are designed to bring awareness to a social concern, like violence, which often includes an alcohol component,” she said.

As part of President Ann Weaver Hart’s 2011 Community and Student Issues and Concerns Task Force, CSS spoke with psychologists to figure out the best way to address abuse of alcohol on and around campus. They found consistency of enforcement has a large effect.

“If you did it today, four weeks from now it may not have an effect, but if you do it today and then do it again, it’ll have that enforcement and cause behavioral change,” Leone said. “We heed that and it’s not about how big a hammer you can pull out, it’s about being consistent in what we do to try to get the message to folks.”

Becky Kerner can be reached at beckykerner@temple.edu.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.