Improving the Grid

Students have a new alcohol policy on campus that they must adhere to, the Alcohol Sanctioning Grid.

The grid is a list of disciplinary outcomes for anyone who does not follow the University of Wisconsin- Stevens Point alcohol policies. Students are expected to acknowledge this year’s improved grid protocol for alcohol consumption. If disregarded, it could lead to abiding consequences.

“We want students to first use self-discipline and let them make their own decisions, but realize what could happen when they don’t follow the regulations,” said Anne Hoffman of the Student Advisory Board.

It is important to emphasize that the grid applies to both minors and legal aged UWSP students. Those legal of age can consume alcohol, but depending on certain Residence Halls, and whom the alcohol is distributed to, can lead to violation of school policy.

All infractions will be penalized based on the number of offenses, not on blood alcohol content. After the first offense, students must meet with a conduct hearing officer, be on 16 weeks disciplinary probation, pay financial restitution if damages are incurred, and take a $75 Personal Alcohol-Control through Exploration class. A follow up meeting is also required.

Additional incidents lead to more severe punishments.

“It’s generally accepted that kids are going to try drinking when they come to college; it seems a little harsh to punish a first time offender financially and put him or her on probation,” said a student who wishes to remain anonymous.

“This grid is substantially for harm reduction, not abstinence,” Hoffman said after discussing the considerations of a student’s perspective.

Over the past six years, an Alcohol Wise survey has been sent out to incoming students. The survey has​been used to educate students and to help school officials gather statistics.

According to the Alcohol Wise survey, 56.9 percent of college students drink alcohol 1-5 days out of every week. By itself, this statistic doesn’t seem that severe, but the interesting statistic is that 22.8 percent out of those students have as many as four to five drinks in one sitting.

Data from the survey shows an average student’s BAC is at or above a .15, when only a .05 is needed to reach a buzz. BAC also varies depending on the individual.

“I’ve heard students say, ‘When the cops show up, you might as well be hammered’, because BAC doesn’t matter. Nothing is going to stop kids from drinking, so I think we should instead be encouraging responsibility- maybe punishment should be based on BAC initially, Then we can focus on repeat offenders,” the anonymous UWSP student said.

Hoffman began this program in 2006 and continues to serve as its backbone. The Vice Chancellor, along with the Dean of Students, started to implement the development two years ago.

Not only do the UWSP Adjudicating Officers require these guidelines, the Mayor, community members, law enforcement, court system, and local health care practice all support the promotion of the recent expectations.

A separate grid similar to the Alcohol Sanction Grid is currently being created. It concerns the use of illicit drugs including marijuana and prescription drugs. It has not been published yet, but within the next few years will be enforced.

A violation on campus only ends up on a students conduct record, which is protected by law. The same violation broken off-campus or cited by Protective Services can end up on a public record, which shows up as a criminal charge for anyone to see.

“The questions is, who do you want to see what is on your public record?” Hoffman said.

Vanessa Vincent

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