HED:MSU cracks down on irresponsible drinkers
By Jennifer Ginn
STARKVILLE – Mississippi State University has taken a hard-line approach to curb student drinking.
MSU’s Center for Alcohol and Drug Education has been leading a campuswide effort to help reduce student drinking since 1992.
Students who are arrested for possession of alcohol are referred to the center for evaluation. If they are arrested for possession and another charge, such as DUI or public drunkenness, they are required to attend an alcohol education program for a month.
“They spend two hours a week with me and go through alcohol information, education, decision-making,” said Deborah Jackson, a graduate student and employee at the center.
Jackson said the center does more than just counseling for students who have gotten into trouble. They put on informational programs for various groups and dormitories on campus.
“Every few years, we do an alcohol and drug survey,” she said. It measures “students’ perceptions of campus norms. We end up not just with information on what they do, but what they think other people do.
“We found out quite a few students drink because they perceive other people are doing that. A lot of our programs are geared toward taking a more honest and direct look at the norms.”
Overall, Jackson said, both the campus police and the Starkville police have taken a harder line in enforcing no-alcohol laws on campus and eliminating underage drinking.
“Over the last few years with (alcohol-related) deaths on campuses, we’ve stepped up enforcement,” Jackson said. “We have roadblocks.
“The police chief here in Starkville is very serious about the zero-tolerance law for minors. Our own campus police chief let it be known he’s very serious about enforcement of laws.”
Although alcohol and college probably are forever connected, Jackson said campus officials are trying to make sure students have the knowledge they need to make wise choices.
“There’s such a long history of alcohol and ties with college attendance,” she said. “It’s to be expected they’ll be flexing their wings. Our part is to make sure if they do choose to flex those wings, we’ll try to keep them safe and get them to make choices based on fact.”