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True UT Story: I Studied While They Partied, and Still Got Fined.

 

As a freshman here at UT, I, along with many others, have had a bad experience with student conduct involving alcohol on campus. I was advised by the school not to tell my story or try to justify myself as being innocent like I thought I was, but instead to summarize “Article 9, section G” of the Student Rules and Regulations. Although this may seem like a boring piece, it is definitely something I recommend reading. As a freshman, I did not read a single thing that was handed to me at orientation or those gateways presentations, so I had no idea about the alcohol rules. Therefore, I suggest that you read this summary of the rules and consequences and keep yourself out of unnecessary trouble!

Things you should be aware of when it comes to partying with alcohol on campus

The University of Tampa is straightforward and strict with their policies when it comes to alcohol. Knowing of the average college student’s weekend agenda, the school wants to assure that their students stay safe and make good decisions. In order to do this, the school must punish the students according to their level of violation, so that they will be more aware for their college years to come.

The University of Tampa only tolerates the possession of alcohol in the “wet” residence halls (David A. Straz Jr. Hall, Frank P. Urso Hall, ResCom, and West Kennedy Hall). Possession of alcohol or any devices designed for drinking (funnels, beer pong, etc) in any other Hall is prohibited and will lead any student holding alcohol to face the consequences.

There is a broad spectrum of locations in which the alcohol may be found that would be considered in a student’s possession. First of all, it is obvious that if alcoholic beverages were discovered in a student’s room, they would be in trouble for possession. That is a space that only them and their roommates (if any) have access to, therefore they should be aware of what is present there. Another evident location in which the alcohol would be considered in a student’s personal possession would be their vehicle. Regardless of whether the alcohol is the student’s or not, they should be knowledgeable that whatever is kept in their car will be considered their property. One place where students may not think they will get held responsible for alcohol would be in their common room. Yes, other students on their floor and maybe even their building may have access to this room, but that does not mean that it will not be traced back to the owner. Regardless of the fact that the common room is open to all floors of the residence hall, it is no better of a place to keep any illegal paraphernalia than in a personal dorm room. The campus rules do not encourage or accept underage students consuming, distributing, selling, or simply possessing alcohol, both in and outside of their dormitory. Nor can they use a fake Id or anything of that manner to falsely portray themselves as being of age.

Another type of possession is known as “constructive possession.” In the Student Rights and Responsibilities pamphlet it is stated that, “ ‘Constructive’ possession exists if: students have knowledge and access to alcohol found in rooms, vehicle, or public areas; and there is enough open alcohol for them to consume (over a one- to – one alcohol to legal drinker ratio). Students can be constructively possessing alcohol even if they have not actually consumed any alcohol themselves. Open alcohol includes, but is not limited to, cups, open beer cans or bottles, uncorked wine bottles, unsealed wine or liquor bottles, tapped kegs, pitchers, decanters and punch bowls”(page 8). Students are also prohibited to be intoxicated in any level on campus. Included in this policy, if students are disruptive, operate a vehicle, abusive, or act in any form of this behavior, they will have to face those consequences as well.

Social hosting is another important rule to be aware of as a college student here at UT. Whether a student is not the one who invited the other underage drinkers into the room, they will be held responsible for them. The same rule applies for the alcohol; even if the student who resides in the room is not the supplier of the alcohol, it will be assumed that since it is their room, they are supplying it. To avoid having this happen to an uninvolved student, the school highly encourages them to check everyone’s ID and make sure there is no underage consumption. If there is underage drinking, the student is advised to kick everyone out or call the RA himself or herself. A rule in which I have now realized is VERY important to know is that “students can be responsible for the presence or consumption of alcohol whether or not they are present in the room at the time of the violation” (page 8).

“Medical Amnesty” is a policy of the University of Tampa, which encourages students to act immediately if another student is intoxicated to a dangerous point. By doing so, that individual student will be exempt from disciplinary action. However, they may be charged for their other possible violations of the school policy while intoxicated. They will be required to complete a course of evaluation counseling and treatment.

By violating any of the policies in “Article 9” of the Student Rights and Responsibilities pamphlet, students are putting themselves at risk of suspension, expulsion, counseling, and much more. Depending on how many alcohol violations a student has accumulated, they will be required to complete counseling courses, fined between $100-$200, pending termination or complete termination of residency, pending or complete suspension, and parental notification. Counseling will thoroughly teach the students the consequences of bad actions, and show them that there can be incidents where consumption of alcohol can penalize people not just through their school, but physically, mentally, emotionally, and impact their entire lives in terrible ways. The fines, as well as pending suspension, expulsion, and housing, will punish the students in a way that makes them regret their violations. These will serve them a constant reminder to stay out of trouble so that they will not go against school terms again.

These policies are rational in the sense that The University of Tampa wants to assure the safety of their students and campus staff. These rules and regulations serve a fair warning to students so that they can make good decisions and stay out of trouble. These guidelines will also help the students by being a “lesson learned” rather than a permanent record and possible jail time if the authorities off campus caught them. The University of Tampa does not strive to get students in trouble, but instead to teach them a lesson and keep them out of trouble.

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