University of Michigan Students Need Alcohol and Drug Awareness Classes

by: Mike Miller

Alcohol and drugs are quite popular at university campuses around the country. That is a fact that has had relevance for as long as colleges have been around.

But is the problem getting worse? People at the University of Michigan are beginning to think so!

The MU Police Department reported 21 instances of underage alcohol-related offenses and five marijuana-related offenses between Aug. 18 and Aug. 25.

Compared to similar college campuses, MU’s numbers are significantly higher. MUPD recorded more than three times as many drug- and alcohol-related incidents in the same period as reported to UC Berkeley Police.

Under state law, it is illegal for anyone under 21 years old to consume, possess or purchase alcohol. Harsher enforcement, combined with other ordinances, attempt to address the expected issue of underage drinking in the large student population of Columbia.

At other campuses, police say they do not actively seek out arrests for the offense, but still cite many students. More often than not, campus police are called for another reason – perhaps a fight or some form of trouble. The alcohol and drug offenses are tacked on to the other offenses.

Other reason police are called are nuisance parties, which are considered social gatherings of 10 or more people where activities such as minors drinking alcohol, littering, outdoor urination, smoking marijuana, setting off fireworks or discharging firearms happen.

Sobriety checks are one way local police have attempted to deter driving under the influence of alcohol as well as minors in possession. These are typically a joint effort between local police and highway patrol or the county sheriff and are funded through a highway safety grant program.

Possession of less than 35 grams of marijuana or drug paraphernalia, though considered a low-priority offense under the city ordinance, is still an arrestable offense under state law as a Class A misdemeanor in Michigan. In contrast, Berkeley, California’s code directs local police to “make no arrests and issue no citations for violations of marijuana laws.”

What are your thoughts? Should these laws be strictly enforced? Perhaps the answer is a good alcohol awareness class or drug awareness class. Education is never a bad thing.