Dorms raise alcohol fines

BY CHRIS CLARK | AUGUST 21, 2009 7:07 AM

Undergrads, beware: A new policy for being near alcohol in the dorms could break the bank.

Under the new rule, any student in a dorm room in which people are drinking alcohol could be fined up to $200 — a change from last year’s rule requiring only a warning.

“The reason we implemented that is because [resident assistants] will find a room with four open beer cans, and only one person will admit to drinking it,” said Kate Fitzgerald, an assistant director of Residence Life.

On top of the new policy, the UI has also increased the fines for drinking or hosting a party in the dorms. For hosting a party, which is determined by the RA, students could fork over up to $700. Last year, the maximum fine for hosting a party was $500.

In addition, a student can expect to pay $330 if found drinking in the dorms, up from the $200 charge last year.

Fitzgerald said the number of citations for drinking in the dorms increased for the first time last year since first implementing fines in 2004. The higher cost of a PAULA — a total of $330 — motivated students to move drinking from off-campus to the dorms where, if caught, the penalty would be less.

“Raising the fine will make them think twice before they drink in the halls,” she said.

For students such as sophomore Trew Basso the increased fine doesn’t change much.

A resident in the new wing of Burge Hall, he said he doesn’t drink in the dorms often and thinks the new policy could cause more problems than it solves.

If he came home from studying at the library to find his roommates or friends drinking in his room, he said, he would not “rat them out” and doesn’t think he should have to leave his own room to avoid confrontations.

“We’re in college. Drinking is part of the life,” he said, noting he can go off-campus to drink and probably have more fun.

And while increasing the fines may deter students from drinking in the dorms Greg Thompson, the Residence Life manger of hall operations, said the financial penalties have other benefits.

He said the money coming from alcohol fines goes to the Alcohol Fine Fund, a program that allows RAs to apply for money to host alternative evening activities for students on weekends.

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