Dry campus policy enforced for students’ safety

Allison Mueller

Abigail Derkson/ Winonan

September has not quite concluded and already the number of alcohol-related instances is being tallied.

So far this year five students have been transported to a detox center after consuming excessive amounts of alcohol. On average, thirty to thirty-five students per year are transported to detox.

On-campus students are sent from the residence halls to detox if they are too intoxicated to take care of themselves. If a student appears to be too intoxicated, security will assess the situation, call the police or EMS if needed, and make an assessment to determine if the student needs to be taken to detox.

Director of security at Winona State University Don Walski records instances where students are transported to detox.

“Over a one to two year period,” Walski said, “police didn’t transfer one case, and that’s out of fifty or sixty.”

Because alcohol is prohibited on Winona State’s campus, Walski also records and reports instances of alcohol violations on campus.

In 2013, 236 students were disciplined for alcohol violations on campus. The previous year in 2012, 331 students were disciplined for alcohol violations. And in 2011, 377 students were disciplined for alcohol violations. According to these statistics, alcohol violations have decreased.

For the numbers still getting caught with alcohol on campus face a variety of consequences, which include a warning, community service or a cancellation of a student’s housing agreement.

The university enforces the alcohol-free policy because all state, public MnSCU campuses are alcohol free under MnSCU Board Policy 5.18. Colleges like St. Mary’s do not need to follow this policy because they are a private institution. According to their 2014 handbook, alcohol is permitted to those over the age of 21 in private residence hall rooms.

According to MnSCU Board Policy 5.18, the distribution, possession and use of alcohol on campus or at off-campus events at state universities is strictly prohibited. This is done to control and prevent the abuse of controlled substances, including alcohol.

The policy from the board has been in place since June of 2000. Walski, however, said the university has been a dry campus since he has worked here for the past 20 years. Walski said he supports the dry campus policy.

“I think it’s a good idea,” he said. “Alcohol causes problems. The unfortunate thing is that some of the decisions made when people start drinking are not good.”

Because of the university’s alcohol free policy, many students may go off campus to drink.

Off-campus alcohol violations, such as someone under 21 getting arrested for drinking, are reported to the university.

Alex Kromminga, director of student conduct and civility, deals with these types of violations.

Kromminga said, “We do that because Winona is such a small community. Our approach is we bring students here, and we bring great things to the community because of the students and the university, which means we are also going to take responsibility for any negative action.”

He continued and said, “We try to use our approach as a learning approach. Your actions can affect your ability to be a successful student.”

Around 90 percent of the students Kromminga sees for violations he does not speak with again, he said. This is because, he said, most students learn their lesson.

“I talk to students to recognize if these things become more important than your education, you basically spent $10,000 dollars for a really awesome party,” Kromminga said.

For some programs at the university, students could be removed from the program if they are arrested for an alcohol violation.

Kromminga stressed that not all students drink alcohol, even if they are 21.

“Everyone thinks that alcohol is such a big thing in college life. Not everyone drinks,” Kromminga said. “We have more and more students that come in that do not partake in any alcohol.”

One of these students is senior Brianne Favaro, who as a freshman was more concerned with other obligations like participating in the university’s cheer team.

“It’s assumed that everyone drinks,” Favaro said. “Freshman forget we aren’t a Big 10 party school.”

Favaro has friends whose housing agreements were cancelled because of alcohol violations.

“People think it’s the thing to do, and then they get caught,” she said.

Favaro is a supporter of the dry campus policy because she feels it is good for people who are not comfortable drinking.

“Everyone has a choice in drinking in their own time,” she said.