Alcohol violations on record? Meet with a faculty member

BY JOSEPH BELK | APRIL 05, 2010 7:30 AM

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University of Iowa students charged with some alcohol-related offenses will soon have to begin meeting with faculty to discuss substance use.

The new program set to launch in the fall, called Critical Mentoring and Support for Students or Critical MASS, will pair students with alcohol violations with a faculty member for periodic meetings.

UI officials are hoping the plan will serve as a means of early intervention and prevent second violations, said David Grady, the UI dean of students.

He said the UI is looking to train a “couple dozen” staff or faculty, and he’s seen some interest in the advising program.

UI sophomore Keely Kemp said she thinks the program could work well, if the faculty and student form a connection and work well together.

“I think it would be on a relationship basis,” she said.

The group will operate alongside the UI’s current two-strike policy.

Under that code, after two alcohol infractions — including public intoxication, OWI, or an emergency-room visit — a student may be suspended for a semester or longer. The policy, which has been enforced since 1999, does not factor in PAULAs.

Nine students were suspended under the two-strike mandate during the last academic year.

Associate Dean of Students Tom Baker said the new policy has allowed officials to be more consistent with their disciplinary action in the past decade.

“It wasn’t so much a change in policy,” he said. “It was a new way to emphasize the consequences.”

In addition, UI officials are re-evaluating components of the university’s protocol on alcohol and drugs. Baker said the details of the plan will likely be announced by the end of the semester.

But the campus chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy has taken a critical stance towards the UI’s approach to alcohol and drug issues.

Chapter President Marni Steadham said her group’s main concern is that the UI doesn’t have a “Good Samaritan” policy.

Good Samaritan, or medical amnesty, provisions shield students from school sanctions when they call for emergency help. The University of Northern Iowa is the only regent institution that has such a policy.

Cornell University in Ithica, N.Y., enacted its “Medical Amnesty Protocol,” which pardons underage alcohol possession for students who beckon support for intoxicated friends, in the fall of 2002.

Mary Elizabeth Grant, the judicial administrator at the university, said officials were hoping to address issues that arose in a student survey.

In that study, roughly 18 percent of Cornell students said they considered calling for help for an intoxicated friend in the past year — but of those students, only 4.5 percent sought assistance.

After instituting the policy, officials saw a rise in emergency calls, which Grant said initially concerned some.

But follow-up study by Cornell found the number of students who received an educational intervention more than doubled after two years with the new program.

“We saw that as a positive impact of our program,” she said.

Though the UI doesn’t have a clear-cut Good Samaritan policy, Baker said, he doesn’t think the current policy discourages students from calling for help.

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