Parental Notification Spur Protest at U. South Fla

Parental Notification Spur Protest at U. South Fla
Posted by FoM on November 18, 1999 at 07:05:47 PT
By Lucas Grindley, The Oracle U. South Florida
Source: U-WIRE
The Board of Regents at the University of South Florida may soon direct all state universities to call mom and dad if an underage student is caught drinking. Under the proposal, parents would also be notified if their under-21 children are caught using illegal drugs. 
The proposal, which will be considered on Thursday or Friday, is intended to curb underage drinking and drug abuse. It was recommended by the State University System vice presidents for Student Affairs, who investigated implementing proposals at their schools. The Board of Regents policy asks that "... each university be directed to develop and adopt alcohol and drug abuse policies, including a policy with respect to the notification of parents whose underage, dependents are SUS students in violation of any federal, state, or local law, or rules of the university governing the use or possession of alcohol or a controlled substance." "Recent discussions with SUS vice presidents of Student Affairs have led to the recommendation that, after discussion with appropriate campus constituents, each university be directed to adopt a policy statement on parental notification," states the proposal. But not everyone agrees with the SUS vice presidents, particularly students. The Florida Student Association has countered the BOR proposal with one of its own. It advocated more education about alcohol abuse rather than calling parents. It even goes as far as to recommend the creation of alcohol-free floors in dormitories. The USF Student Government senate passed a bill Tuesday night denouncing the BOR proposal. Senate president Sammy Kalmowicz said university policies should treat college students as adults. "If you are old enough to be in college and away from parents, then you are old enough to accept responsibility for any actions you take while in college," he said. "Should a parent be responsible for the actions of a student who is old enough to hold a job, run for office, participate in a war? The only thing they are not able to do is drink. The parents lose responsibility over the students in every part of their life except this." Kalmowicz said he isn't sure calling parents is an effective deterrent to alcohol and drug use by underage students. "It would have to depend on the family background of the students," he said. "But it doesn't matter if it is effective or not, it is a responsibility issue." University Police Sgt. Mike Klingebiel said the policy would be effective. "Traditionally, parents are the biggest role model that any individual has," he said. "We are typically dealing with individuals who might be out in the world for the first time and having the support of the parents could be beneficial to the students' behavior." If approved, alcohol violations would become the only criminal act that a parent would be notified about. For example, Klingebiel said a student could steal a car and their parents would not be called. He said parents are only involved when a juvenile, someone below the age of 18, commits a crime. Student Judicial Services dealt with 30 underage alcohol violations during 1998-99 school year. That is more than triple the nine violations caught during 1996-97. Klingebiel attributes the increase to the implementation of the zero tolerance law for drunk driving. An underage driver can be referred to Student Affairs if they have a .02 alcohol level. The normal infraction level is .08. The parental notification policy is expected to discourage underage students from violating the law. However, the BOR policy allows each state university to decide the details of its own policy. USF is likely to adopt the parental notification policy, according to Wilma Henry, associate vice president for Student Life and Wellness. Henry said a committee formed at USF during the summer has already decided that a parental notification policy would benefit students. With that recommendation in mind, Henry said USF has moved to create its own parental notification policy. The proposal has been submitted to USF's Office of General Counsel for review and still must be approved by Acting President Thomas Tighe. "Our (current alcohol) policy had not been updated in years, and that committee recommended the new policy even before the concern from the Board of Regents," Henry said. "We are not waiting on the BOR. Even if the board had never heard about this, it was a part of the recommendation from our group." If the policy passes Tighe's approval, Student Judicial Services would determine on a case-by-case basis when parental notification would be appropriate, Henry said. Anthony Brooks, president for the Residence Hall Association, said his group supports parental notification only if it is implemented case-by-case. "We are OK with parental consent if we are assured it will be done on a case-by-case basis and not mandated by the authorities," Brooks said. "From personal experience, when I was a (resident assistant), I had residents that I felt were alcoholics, and if I could call home to parents it would have been helpful." Brooks said although college students are adults and should be treated as such, some situations require parent involvement. "When it comes to someone's health and well-being, at that point it supersedes everything else," he said. But Kevin Mayeux, director for FSA, said parental notification is flawed. "Students are adults, and as adults should have rights," he said. "If we treat college students differently than we treat 18 to 20-year-olds in the rest of society, then that is not fair." (C) 1999 The Oracle via U-WIRE  Published: November 17, 1999Copyright  1995-1999 Excite Inc.Related Article:GWU Students Describe The Highs & Lows of Drug Use-11/02/99
Home Comment Email Register Recent Comments Help

Post Comment

Name: Optional Password: 
Comment: [Please refrain from using profanity in your message]
Link URL: 
Link Title: