Taylor Carlson December 9, 2008 Final Feature Underage Drinking Jessica Adams, 18, looks both ways down the hallway of her freshman dorm hall as she brings a full garbage bag of beer cans and empty alcohol bottles downstairs to the dumpster. Last night, a group of about 8 people gathered in her dorm room for a late night “kick back.” This isn‟t the first time Adams has been cautious of being caught by resident assistants (RA). In preparation for last nights get-together Adams had one of her senior friends buy her a large case of beer and a bottle of vodka and rum. She snuck it upstairs in brown paper bags and stored it under her bed surrounded by random items to keep it out of sight. After everyone had gathered into the room, Adams and others shoved a towel under the door to muffle the noises of people in the room as to not raise suspicion. At about 10 o‟clock they were sure to be extra quiet because they knew a RA would be patrolling the hallways. “I started drinking before I came to college but my parents were a big fright factor for me,” said Adams. “I know that being unsupervised on the college campus has been a major factor in drinking for me. I feel like I am finally on my own and should be able to exercise the responsibility of alcohol.” Resident Assistant Devon Hudak and a fellow RA walk up and down the hallways of Allen Hall making sure everyone is safe and quiet. Occasionally, they will stop at an open door and ask the residents inside to keep their door closed because it is “quiet hours” and continue walking. Often, the RA‟s will hear noises and knock on a door to a closed room and check on the residents inside. “I don‟t really understand why freshman residents choose to drink alcohol in their rooms,” said Hudak. “They feel like they can be quiet enough that we won‟t investigate but once the alcohol starts to hit the volume inside the room increases.” More often than not, it is the RA‟s jobs to handle the alcohol violation. An RA usually writes a citation for the students involved. “If we are caught they usually make us dump all of the alcohol down the sink and take the containers out the garbage while the RA‟s watch us,” said Adams. Usually, the RA‟s take complete control of the violation. Usually, it is instances where the students are repeat offenders, uncooperative or need medical assistance when the police get involved. “As much as I can I try to save the underage violation to a repeat offender that we‟ve dealt with multiple times or someone who is behaving in such a grotesque manner that they absolutely need to have a higher level of enforcement applied,” said Officer Lance Wigley from the NAU Police Department. Immediate consequences to a criminal offence are citation and release. Other consequences being booked in jail where students who will receive a court date, Repeat offenders often receive a criminal deferral which means that there is an ongoing investigation and the student is sent to the Dean of Students to see if they have other conduct issues to determine the punishment. Other consequences students may face are: taking an online class, creating a poster to display in the residence halls or an essay. “We don‟t‟ want to make it so all of our students graduate with criminal records,” said Officer Wigley. “That‟s not what we‟re in the business of doing.” The NAU Counseling and Testing Center offers a substance abuse program for a variety of circumstances. Students participating in the substance abuse program can receive counseling, abuse assessment and referral and assistance through an anonymous group such as AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) “Each year, approximately 5,000 young people under the age of 21 die as a result of underage drinking; this includes about 1,900 deaths from motor vehicle crashes, 1,600 as a result of homicides, 300 from suicide, as well as hundreds from other injuries such as falls, burns, and drowning,” according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). The statistics provided by the NIAAA is indicative of the volume of people who participate in underage drinking and the consequences related. This statistic includes not just college students but all individuals under the age of 21. State university statistics vary greatly in the amount of drinking violations reported. Arizona State University‟s and the University of Arizona‟s clery reports to not differentiate between alcohol law violations reported to the police and those reported to other university officials, such as RA‟s, while NAU does. ASU had 184 liquor law arrests and 1055 liquor law violations referred for disciplinary action in residential facilities in 2007. The UoA had 349 liquor violations in 2006. NAU had 122 alcohol law violations reported to the university police and 813 alcohol law violations reported to other university officials (RA‟s) in 2007. “We have to sort of infer, from our standpoint, people use it to such an extreme that it causes them to do stupid things,” said Officer Wigley. “A lot of things that get damaged, fights and sexual assaults are normally alcohol related.” Other clery report statistics such as sex offenses, aggravated assault and vandalism could be alcohol related. “It‟s probably one of the bigger things we deal with here at NAU PD,” said Officer Wigley. “A large amount of our contact is related just to alcohol use, generally.” Adults, who are now parents of college students, experienced a similar environment when they were in college. “When I was my kid‟s age and in college was right when the drinking age was changed to 21 and I was grandfathered in because I was already 18 when the law changed,” said Felisha Roberts, a parent of a sophomore NAU student. “I remember that my friends were all underage but it didn‟t really matter. I had a lot of friends who got in a lot of trouble for underage drinking and a lot that went to the hospital for alcohol poisoning or worse.” “I would hope that my child is being responsible but I was in his place before,” said Roberts. “I know he drinks. Parents try to ignore the reality that their kids will drink in college. They think they‟ve taught their kids better. Maybe they have, but most kids will at least experiment.” Adams is aware that she may one day get in trouble for her behavior, but that isn‟t going to stop her from doing it anytime soon. “I am prepared to take responsibility for my actions when the time comes, but for now I‟m going to have as much fun as I want because it is college and I will probably never be in college again,” said Adams. Adams calls up her senior friend and asks him to provide the alcohol for next weekend for an extra ten bucks for his trouble and gas. He says „yes, of course‟.