Campus News

University toughens alcohol policy, starts mandatory student program

All new UGA students will be required to complete an online alcohol education course during their first semester as part of the university’s stepped-up efforts to address student alcohol-related problems.

The University Council approved the mandatory course at its final meeting of the academic year April 25. All incoming freshmen and transfer students must complete the three-hour course during their first semester. Those who don’t will not be allowed to enroll for the next semester.

“Students are naive about alcohol,” said Richard Dunham, chair of the council’s Student Affairs Committee, in proposing the course. “We have to change attitudes about alcohol and such things as binge drinking.”

Called “,” the course provides information about risks associated with alcohol consumption and suggests ways to help students who drink too much. It also allows students to rate themselves on personal risk factors such as beliefs about alcohol, lifestyle issues and consequences of high-risk drinking.

In a related action, the council also approved a policy limiting the new member initiation period for fraternities and sororities to eight weeks.

On the day after the council meeting, President Michael F. Adams’s Cabinet made two major changes to the student Code of Conduct. The changes are designed to discourage underage alcohol consumption and other alcohol violations.

One change mandates that a student convicted the first time through the student judicial process of violating alcohol and drug policies be required to take an alcohol awareness class and be placed on probation for the remainder of the semester and for the next two semesters. A second offense while on probation will result in suspension for the current semester and the next semester. The penalties apply to every student regardless of age.

The second change requires that parents or guardians be notified every time a student under 21 violates policies on possession of alcohol or drugs. The policy previously required notification for the second and subsequent violations, or when the violation resulted in property damage or medical or safety problems.

The university will also implement new football game-day policies this fall including prohibiting tailgating before 7 a.m. on Saturday and setting up alcohol-free tailgating areas.

In other University Council action, a debate over a proposed academic calendar resulted in Adams announcing that he will create a committee to study the problem of students cutting class to get a head start on breaks. Several council members requested the study as the council considered the proposed 2007-2008 academic calendar in which fall break is scheduled for the Thursday-Friday before the Georgia-Florida football game.

In his opening report, Adams said that as of July 1, the university’s non-discrimination and anti-harassment policy will include sexual orientation, and the university will begin offering soft benefits to domestic partners of university employees. The council voted in 2004 to add sexual orientation to the anti-discrimination/harassment policy.