TCU’s alcohol policy was changed at the beginning of the school year and left some students unsure about the consequences of alcohol violations and the policy of medical amnesty.
Medical amnesty, the policy of not being punished for illegal activities when seeking medical attention, would only be provided to the student who called for help, according to the new policy.
Three alcohol violations over the course of four years could possibly result in removal from university housing and would result in disciplinary probation, the policy states.
David Cozzens, the associate vice chancellor of student affairs and dean of Campus Life, said that it made sense to tweak the TCU policy on alcohol violations and medical amnesty because the original policy was different than other surrounding universities and wasn’t safe enough for students.
“The policy before was unintentionally normalizing alcohol. The tweak we made was to get us on the level with other universities. It didn’t make sense to restart the clock every semester,” Cozzens said.
Sparkle Greenhaw, the director of the Alcohol & Drug Education Center, said that the “three strikes” policy isn’t accurate in most cases and that it is an incorrect wording for alcohol violations.
Some students said they didn’t understand the new alcohol policy and thought that it was confusing.
“People are very confused about the policy—it didn’t come across too clearly,” Greenhaw said. “They should advertise it better or create a presentation online,” said a sophomore who asked to remain anonymous.
Cozzens said that nobody in the past school year has been expulsed for having three alcohol violations.
“[Expulsion] could happen hypothetically, but it depends on how serious the cases are. We’re really concerned if a student has three violations, though. We suggest some help specifically about why a student is drinking so much,” Cozzens said.
Cozzens said that if a student has three violations, there may be a serious issue and some students are suggested to take a semester off.
“The diagnosis for an alcohol-related problem is a pattern of behavior denoted by three or four significant events in a period of time,” Cozzens said. “Three violations results in disciplinary probation. It’s putting them on notice— not saying they’re ‘out,’ but it says possible expulsion from university housing.”
Some students expressed concern about the new medical amnesty policy because they said they didn’t want to get their friends in trouble.
“I don’t like it that much,” the anonymous sophomore said about the medical amnesty policy.
“My friend got drunk one night and was throwing up for almost two hours, but the thought of getting her in trouble was scary. I didn’t want to lose her friendship. In the end, we were concerned about her safety and called for help, but we were also worried about the consequences,” the sophomore said.
Greenhaw said that, according to a national study, the fear of getting someone in trouble was was the seventh reason on a list of why people didn’t call for help.
The first reason, Greenlaw said, is that people don’t recognize the signs of alcohol poisoning.
Cozzens said that it was hard to tell if the new policies were reducing alcohol violations after only a year of data, but he said there were some positive data correlations.
“We have seen less alcohol poisonings this year. We don’t know exactly why; it may be just an increased awareness that alcohol can get you in trouble. We’ve also seen less hospital visit due to alcohol this year, but we don’t have enough data to know the reason for sure,” Cozzens said.
Cozzens said that people have the perception of everyone drinking in college, but that statistically speaking that is not true.
“Somewhere between 16 and 20 percent of students at TCU don’t drink at all. 40 percent say they drink frequently. The rest drink responsibly. A lot of students think all college students drink crazily, and that’s not true,” Cozzens said.
Greenhaw said that there are very few repeat offenders in terms of alcohol violations, and that normally people learn their lesson after one violation.
“Approximately 90 percent of students who come through [the Alcohol & Drug Education Center] only come through here once,” Greenhaw said.
“It’s that 10 percent that tend to come back again and again or have repeat problems. If someone continues to use despite the consequences, it becomes a problem. Repeat offenders are a very small percentage of the student body.”
A junior who chose to remain anonymous said she learned her lesson after the first alcohol violation.
“I didn’t want it to happen again because it was a very scary experience. The money was a consequence as well,” she said.
Cozzens and Greenhaw said they agreed that alcohol was dangerous and shouldn’t be taken lightly.
“Alcohol has nothing to do with the academic experience,” Cozzens said.