Amended Sanctions

The Office of Judicial Affairs and the Department of StudentLife distributed papers on Oct. 17 detailing the sanctions imposedfor drug and alcohol offenses to resident students.

According to Mary Morgan, Assistant Director of JudicialAffairs, the distribution of the responses of drug and alcoholviolations is new, not the penalties themselves.

“The standards are really no different from what we did allalong,” Morgan said.

However, the new sanctions distributed include a tiered systemof offenses as well as specific violations such as requiringemergency care for alcohol abuse, placing a towel under the door,and having a fan in the window were not incorporated in theResidence Life Handbook from 2002 – 2003. According to the new listof responses to alcohol offenses, a first level offender is someonewho participates in underage drinking, is in an area where alcoholpossession and consumption is prohibited, or “possessesparaphernalia analogous to the consumption of alcohol.” A secondlevel offender is one who is “vomiting but coherent and conscious,”staggering or engaging in disruptive or aggressive behavior. Thirdlevel offenses include the following: “vomiting and/or incoherent,unconscious, needed or received medical attention, lost control ofbodily functions and memory loss.”

The severity of the sanctions depends on individual cases.Offenders of the drug and alcohol policies face punishments rangingfrom fines to expulsion from the University.

As for drug offenses, a first level offender may be fined for$300, be required to attend a mandatory educational workshop, or beremoved from the Residence Halls if they possess drug paraphernaliaor attempt to mask the odor of drugs by using air freshener orincense. Second level offenders possess or use an illicitsubstance, regardless of the amount. They could face disciplinaryprobation or receive a counseling assessment. Third level offenderspossess or distribute large amounts of illegal drugs. Expulsionfrom the University is a recommended sanction.

According to Morgan, the standard University responses to drugand alcohol offenses are “the minimum sanctions in response to theviolations,” but can increase in severity, depending on prioroffenses and a history of misconduct.

“There can be mitigating circumstances that are considered inthe judicial process,” Morgan said. “Often times, when you have analcohol violation that’s coupled with something like disorderlyconduct, sometimes that would increase the level of sanctions.”

Morgan added that the drug and alcohol policies of St. John’sare consistent with those of other colleges.

“We did some benchmarking of other higher educationinstitutions,” she said, “so we came up with a baseline from thebenchmarking study and compared it with the University’s pastpractices.”

The responses were last edited on Sept. 1, 2003. The list wasdistributed over a month after the last revision because it neededapproval from the General Council, which is comprised of attorneysrepresenting St. John’s.

According to Morgan, students who committed violations prior todistribution of the list of sanctions were not “held to the letterof the standards.” However, sanctions will be strictly enforcedafter Oct. 17, she said.

Students had mixed reactions to the sanctions.

“I think they are reasonable,” said Naomie Macena, a freshmancriminal justice major and a Donovan Hall resident. “They should beeffective because $100 is a lot of money. $200 is a lot of money. Idon’t want my parents called because I decided get drunk on theweekends.”

“I think the administration is concerned with taking students’assets,” said James Karz, a sophomore communications arts major andresident of DaSilva Hall. “Although they have a right to fine usbecause we’re violating their policy, I think the penalty might beharsh as we are giving them enough money in terms of tuition andminor fines.”

Morgan said that the fines are used to fund educational programssuch as alcohol education and date-rape workshops.

“Additionally, when fines are used consistently, they are usefulin curbing negative behavior,” she said.