Ole Miss adopts two-strike suspension policy for underage drinkers

Published 7:12 pm Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The University of Mississippi has adopted a new policy that provides for the suspension of any student found guilty of two alcohol or drug rules violations, Chancellor Robert Khayat said Monday.

The new policy takes effect Wednesday.

Violations include DUI, public drunkenness, minor in possession and breaking UM’s alcohol and drug policies or state laws, Khayat said Monday in announcing the policy.

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“First offenses will result in a student being placed on probation. Second offenses while on probation will result in suspension,” said Thomas J. Reardon, Ole Miss dean of students.

At the same time Khayat announced the new policy, he said a task force headed by former American Medical Association president Dr. J. Edward Hill of Tupelo, will address drinking and drug problems among students.

Khayat said he wanted the task force to gather information on alcohol consumption by students, use of alcohol and other drugs on campus, use of alcohol by underage students and frequency and nature of alcohol- and drug-related traffic and other violations.

He said the task force also will suggest educational programs and preventive measures, assess the university’s resources and needs, and present an action plan to the university’s executive management council.

Hill said changing the environment will not be easy. He said the advertising and marketing of drink specials, free beer for women and other promotions have helped create an environment where alcohol abuse, underage drinking and binge drinking seem attractive.

Hill said medical studies show a correlation between underage drinking and long-term quality of life issues.

Khayat said Ole Miss hired a substance abuse prevention educator four years ago and a counseling center has programs for students who have violated laws and are required to seek counseling.

“We’re doing a lot, but we’re learning that it’s not enough,” Khayat said. “We must do more. We need a thoughtful, clear process that produces a set of programs, policies and expectations that will have a permanent, meaningful impact on all of us, but most especially our students.”

The task force will be comprised of faculty, staff, students, alumni, parents and law enforcement officials.

“One thing that has been learned at other colleges and universities is that if the college makes rules and regulations without the community being involved, it doesn’t work,” Hill said.

“Stakeholders in the community and that includes government officials, parents, law enforcement, owners of liquor licenses, store owners and so on must be involved in making and enforcing these regulations, or they just don’t work.”