Dry campus policy keeps alcohol violations ‘below average’

Travis Perry

Washburn’s dry campus policy has been in effect since nearly the inception of the university, and the actions that it governs are very clear to students: keep alcohol off campus.

Yet with 55 reported alcohol violations since September, a number which is higher than previous years, it begs the question of whether alcohol is effectively being kept out of the residence halls.

Dean Forster, director of university police, admitted that even between closed-circuit television and officers patrolling campus, the Washburn Police Department can’t catch every drop of alcohol that makes it on campus.

“Some of it is going to get through,” said Forster. “For me to sit here and say there’s no alcohol on campus would be na’ve.”

Forster said the number of alcohol violations that occur every year tends to fluctuate between 50 and 70.

One thing that seems to challenge the basic idea of the university’s stance against a wet campus is the allowing of alcohol at alumni events, tailgating north of Yager Stadium and other approved functions. Kenneth Hackler, university legal council, pointed out the major difference between those activities named and a student with a 30-pack in the dorms is the element of control. For an event to serve alcohol there is a rigorous application process, which ultimately goes to Jerry Farley, university president, for final approval.

Hackler admitted the tailgating scene is a weak point in the university’s policy, as individuals are not subject to the same screening process groups are.

“Controlling individuals is much more difficult than controlling entities,” said Hackler.

Despite the rise in numbers, both Forster and Mark Stier, director of residential living, didn’t think it was anything to worry about.

“Based on my experience, for a public institution and the size of the student body, [55 referrals] is probably below average,” said Stier, who credited most of the reason to the Washburn police department and the strong resident assistant staff. While the number is partially a result of more instances, it is also because of more instances being reported.

Responsible for filtering through every one of those 55 violators, Meredith Kidd, dean of students, doesn’t worry too much about debating the policy of the university, and simply sees himself as an enforcer. Students who end up in front of Kidd usually face up to a $65 fine, as well as possible minor in posession fees. Additionally, the university usually requires a certain amount of community service be performed by the offender, as well as putting them on disciplinary probation.

A new addition to the referral process is the implementation of what Kidd called the “clinker” law. Along with the rise in incidents, is also the number of alcoholic containers students are being found with. The “clinker” law imposes a $3 per container fee on top of the aforementioned punishments.