By: JESSE SUTTON
Piedmont students again face stricter punishment for alcohol violations.
As a result of the number of alcohol violations last year, in addition to the number that have occurred so far this year, the administration and Board of Trustees met and decided to re-implement the protocol to include outside authorities.
Currently Piedmont enforces a dry campus policy in which the “possession, use, sale, gift or other transfer of intoxicants in any form or manner on the College campus is strictly prohibited,” according to the 2013-2014 student handbook.
In the fall of 2012, a new alcohol protocol was instituted following a large number of student arrests. This protocol depended on Campus Police’s discretion.
One option was to place students in a holding room inside Getman-Babcock. According to Martin, this was enforced to “keep students from getting a criminal record because once they go up to the jail, they get entered into the GCIC [Georgia Crime Information Center], and it becomes part of their permanent criminal history.”
“Some of us were skeptical that [protocol] was going to work in the end,” Martin said. “Personally, in my opinion, I think that people took advantage of it. People were drinking on campus because they knew they weren’t going to go to jail over it.”
With the change in protocol, Campus Police will now contact the Demorest Police Department once an alcohol violation has been discovered.
According to Martin, Campus Police discovers violations in a variety of ways, such as through officers, Residence Life and anonymous phone calls.
“[Calls] come in all different ways, but they all get investigated,” Martin said.
After Campus Police identifies that alcohol violations occurred, the Demorest Police Department is contacted, and they will employ their discretion.
However, students who are over 21 cannot be arrested for drinking on campus.
“If they are drinking on campus, that is not a violation of the law. That’s a violation of the student code of conduct, so that would be handled within the judicial process on campus,” Dean of Students Drew Davis said. “If 21 year olds would like to partake off campus, and they come back on campus safely and they’re not breaking noise violations… and are orderly, there’s not an issue with them. They need to follow the laws when they’re off campus and the rules [and laws] when they’re on campus.”
Martin emphasized that although students 21 and over cannot be arrested for alcohol violations, they can be arrested for providing alcohol to a minor or disorderly conduct.
“I just ask students to use their heads and use good judgment. Think about what the consequences are before deciding whether to do something or not,” Martin said. “Some of these [charges] are life-altering, career-altering situations that they find themselves in.”
Although the decision to include law enforcement provides stricter consequences, some Piedmont students believe this change will not keep students from violating the alcohol policy.
“I agree with the change as a matter of principle, but I doubt it will change much,” wrote Sam Thomas, President of SGA, in an electronic message on Sept. 7. “The year before the creation of the ‘drunk tank,’ we had a record year for alcohol violations. Obviously jail didn’t deter people then, so there’s not much reason to think it will now.”
According to Martin, President Mellichamp called this a temporary alternative. Other protocols may be explored into the future.
“In time, we may go back and review it,” Martin said. “But that will be something the administration decides. I think at some point it time it will be reviewed again.”