Campus Philosophy and Policies on Alcohol
Although colleges and universities will have their own philosophy and policies on alcohol use, students are subject to state and city laws and ordinances. It is the responsibility of the student to know, understand, and comply with existing state and local statutes, codes, and regulations relating to the possession and consumption of alcohol.
At a number of colleges and universities across the country, parents are notified when their student violates the school's alcohol policy. Based on the federal data privacy law, Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), colleges and universities may, but are not required to, report alcohol and some other policy violations to parents.
You might want to find out whether your student's institution has a parental notification policy or practice, and if so, what the policy is. Policies vary widely, from parental notification being used at an official's discretion, to almost universal usage. Institutions' parental notification policies can often be found by searching their website for “parental notification and alcohol.” From the institution's perspective there are advantages and disadvantages to parental notification :
* Pros (in favor of expanding parental notification)
- Reporting is a proactive step that would increase support from parents.
- Utilizing parental notification could reduce the abuse of alcohol.
- Reporting could increase involvement of parents in student-related problems.
- Reporting assists the school in proactively notifying parents of problems that later may become much worse.
- Reporting would send the message to students and the community the institution takes this issue seriously.
- Implementing this policy now may prevent future, more undesirable intrusions by outside groups. The new FERPA amendments reflect powerful trends in the larger society. Disregarding them may bring harsher measures later.
- Engaging in a dialogue with parents will afford the school's staff to acquire additional information about an at-risk student which allows the staff to better respond to the student's issues.
- Reporting to parents can potentially save some students from traumatic consequences later.
- Parental notification helps parents be "parents".
* Cons (opposed to parental notification)
- Logistical problems with how and when to get the information out.
- Reporting is contrary to student development theory.
- Students who are 18 - 21 should be treated as adults.
- Reporting may unnecessarily interrupt a student's educational progress.
- Schools already have the right to implement parental notification for life-threatening situations. And arrests are already public information.
- Reporting would treat a subset of students differently. Students in residence halls would be disproportionately at risk for being reported.
- Reporting could change the character/focus of Resident Assistants and other peer leaders.
- Not enough data to suggest that parental notification is effective.
- Parental notification would be an expensive program and might take away resources from other priorities.
- Parental notification is a simplistic response to a very complex issue.
- Reporting would change the relationship between the student and faculty/staff.
Please consider the following:
Some parents encourage their first-year student to live in an all-freshmen residence hall because they believe they will be less likely to obtain alcohol if everyone in the building is 18 or 19. Other parents prefer that their freshman live in the mixed-classes halls because they feel upperclassmen provide a good example for their freshman. What is your perspective?
Fraternities and Sororities
Parents often worry about drinking in the fraternities and sororities. The National Panhellenic Conference, the governing body for all sororities, has determined that all sorority chapter houses will be dry (alcohol is not allowed in sorority houses). The use of alcohol in membership recruitment and Bid Day activities is also prohibited. In addition, some national fraternities have determined that their chapter houses will be dry.
Student: "The common misconception is that the Greek community does a lot of partying and there's a lot of drinking. In reality, we spend a lot of time educating our chapter members and other members of the Greek community on alcohol awareness. Um we do several workshops and other educational events throughout the year. This fall we actually did a Recovery Works program where we had several speakers come in and speak about the signs of alcoholism and also just resources for people to go to for people with drinking problems as well as ways to drink responsibly and make good choices when you're out having a good time. So, we really focus a lot on making sure to educate our chapter members on alcohol related issues and it's a strong focus for us."
Student: "And in terms of risk management, obviously there's a big perception that the fraternities and sororities are all about alcohol, but in reality we have very strict guidelines and policies on alcohol risk management. When we do have big events uh there is always a security guard at all of the fraternities as well as several sober people and others from the inter-fraternity council who will regulate the parties."
Please consider the following:
What advice would you have for your student if he or she complains that a roommate is drinking?
What would your response be if your student mentioned he/she had been at a party where students were playing drinking games?