Drinking spikes in the dorms
As of Oct. 16, there have been 112 underage liquor violation cases in GC residential facilities during the 2018 school year. Six resulted in a student’s arrest.
“We don’t arrest near the amount [of students] we make referrals for,” said GC Sgt. Michael Baker. “Officers have discretion, especially with first-time offenders, to do student judicial referrals.”
A recent arrest occurred on Sept. 29, when a GC patrol sergeant saw a male stumbling on the first floor of Wells Hall. the 18-year-old student slurred his words, the officer reported, and his breath had a strong odor of alcohol, specially whiskey.
Thee student admitted drinking 30 minutes before encountering the officer. He tested positive on the alcohol sensor with a breath alcohol concentration of 0.22, the equivalent of seven drinks.
The student’s drunken Saturday night ended at the Milledgeville Police Department where he received a citation for possession of alcohol under 21. Additionally, the case was referred to the Student Judicial Board, which is the default procedure in a student arrest.
GC Legal Affairs has documented 102 referrals for underage students in the dorms in 2018. This is a 34 percent increase compared to the 76 referrals disclosed in the 2017 Clery Act report.
Baker said these numbers depend on what kind of students are living in the dorms and how strictly community advisors and directors enforce the rules.
Most of the 2018 referrals were written for Foundation Hall and Village 6. Both had 24 liquor violations referrals, while other halls like Napier and Sanford had only two.
A referral prevents the creation of a criminal record, in addition to documenting a student’s behavior at the time of arrest. Citations are the next step, and even though students are not arrested, they must appear in court on their criminal charge.
Bookings are the most extreme action, when a student is arrested by GC Police for multiple charges
or for their safety. Out of these, referrals are the most common disciplinary action.
“Unlike the Milledgeville Police Department and other local law enforcement, I think we’re very privileged to have the ability to refer a student to student judicial,” Baker said. “Later down the road, if there’s a second offense in close proximity to another, the student may have alcohol or substance abuse problems.”
Public Safety refers substance abuse to the Crisis Assessment Response and Education (CARE) Team. The CARE Team gives access to counseling which can help students who are struggling with addiction.
A severely intoxicated 19-year-old female resident of Adams Hall needed counseling after her arrest on Thursday, March 15. Before officers arrived at her room, she allegedly struck her roommate multiple times.
Even though her roommate declined pressing charges, the intoxicated student was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and alcohol possession under 21. Later, she was referred to the CARE Team for counseling and the Title IX Team for domestic violence.
“For a lot of people, alcohol really changes them,” Baker said. “You never know what you’re going to get when you get out with someone that’s drunk.”
Few of the liquor violations in the dorms are this severe. Unless public safety is called or an officer is patrolling the building, university housing staff write most referrals.
Community advisors are responsible for reporting and documenting any drinking infractions. This information is entered into an incident report system, which area coordinators read and distribute to the community directors.
Community directors conduct hearings and meet with accused students. It’s a formal process, but students are given the chance to defend themselves.
“From there, the student who is supposedly alleged to be the violator of the policy makes the decision as to whether they find themselves responsible,” said Jamie Kwon, community director of Sanford Hall and Napier Hall. “It’s never all upon us; it’s up to you [the student].”Students can still receive a fine if they deny the accusations despite the evidence, and all appeals go to the Student Judicial Board. However, Kwon said that this step is usually unneeded.
“GC students are very honest, and they use this time as a learning moment,” Kwon said. “A lot of the time, they are very apologetic.”
Kwon said she likes to have conversations with accused students about why they came to GC. She makes it clear how drinking incidents can have consequences for a student’s future career—especially when nursing and education students apply for the cohort.
“That’s something as community director and conduct hearing officer that I’m very thankful for,” she said. “The longer I’m here, I know I’m getting spoiled. Our students normally come here because they’re very academic-focused and driven.”