August 30, 2010
STATE COLLEGE — Two weekends into the fall semester, State College police say they are seeing a higher than normal number of alcohol-related calls downtown.
“This is a non-football weekend, not a special event,” said State College police Lt. Chris Fishel. “And we still had 88 people cited for various offenses.”
It comes as university officials are imposing harsher penalties for excessive drinking.
Vice President for Student Affairs Damon Sims said Monday that this year for the first time, any student cited for underage drinking will now have to go through the university’s judicial affairs process, along with paying the criminal fine.
Students charged with other alcohol-related crimes, such as DUI or public drunkenness, can no longer expect to get just a warning from the university. Most will likely receive disciplinary probation, Sims said.
And those who are repeat offenders will find much less tolerance, Sims said.
“We are tightening things up a bit,” Sims said. “We are hoping that our response … is going to be noticed by students. The impact of these initiatives is not going to be immediate. It’s going to take time for us to change the culture here, but I’m confident that over time students are going to realize that the university’s expectations for their behavior are serious and there will be consequence for violations.”
In May, the CDT reported that Penn State has started mandating that students who end up in the emergency room for alcohol-related problems take part in a program called BASICS.
The program is more intensive than Penn State had in the past. For example, each student now receives one-on-one counseling.
Since students have returned to campus, 15 have been transported by State College police to Mount Nittany Medical Center for alcohol-related treatment.
Penn State police spokesman Tyrone Parham said university police numbers for alcohol infractions are on a par with last year’s level, but that the number always spikes at the beginning of the semester, when students are new and the weather is nice.
Here’s a look at citations issued by State College police over the past two weekends:
u Public drunkenness: 11
u Open container: 9
u False ID: 4
u Underage drinking: 46
u Urinating in public: 14
u Fighting: 4
u Loud parties cited: 13
u Loud parties warned: 24
u Furnishing alcohol investigations: 4