SMU Considers A Plan To Curb Student DUI Arrests
By: Gerri Elder
Many colleges and universities in the U.S. currently ban drinking on campus. However, critics of these alcohol bans argue that this only drives students off campus to do their drinking, in some cases, quite literally.
In order to curb drinking and driving, some campuses have given in, and now allow alcohol on campus. Some even have bars that serve alcohol on campus so that students do not have to drive at all if they would like to drink alcohol.
Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, is a private school that is currently addressing concerns about students' abuse of alcohol and drugs as well as drinking and driving for off-campus drinking. The Dallas Morning News reports that, as one potential solution, the school is considering opening a campus pub.
A task force at the university has composed a list of 30 recommendations that they feel would curb alcohol and drug abuse among students. The task force was implemented in the wake of three drug and alcohol related deaths of SMU undergraduate students last year. The task force has attempted to put together a plan that encompasses all areas of the students' campus life in order to keep students safe and healthy, and to avoid future tragedies and DUI arrests.
Some of the recommendations that the task force has made include after-hours medical care for students, more classes scheduled for Friday mornings, and the opening of a pub on campus. The plan aims to make student life at SMU more about academics and not so much about a "party" lifestyle.
Currently, SMU's policies regarding alcohol are a little confusing. The school allows alcohol on campus at some times and in some places, but those rules are not entirely clear. However, the school does have rules in place to curb the abuse of drugs and alcohol. The task force recommendations seek to clarify the rules and make sure that everyone is on the same page about what is acceptable regarding alcohol use on campus.
The task force also felt that the current rules might deter students from offering or calling for help when another student has had too much to drink or has abused drugs. Its recommendation to keep the student medical centers open after hours includes an amnesty policy so that students who seek help or receive medical treatment for drug or alcohol issues would not have to fear punishment.
One study at the university found that when undergraduates do not have classes on Friday morning, they tend to drink more on Thursday nights. That is the basis of the task force's recommendation of having more classes scheduled on Friday mornings.
The administration at SMU is currently reviewing the recommendations. They are expected to make some decisions by the end of the year as to which recommendations will be adopted and which will not be feasible for the school.
If SMU can cut down on its students' abuse of drugs and alcohol and eliminate many of the situations in which the students would be likely to drink and drive, the plan may be a success. The school now just has to decide what changes will be most effective as deterrents against DUI and drug and alcohol abuse.