Programs at U. teach students to drink responsibly


In response to growing concerns on the misuse of alcohol on college campuses, several University organizations have taken measures to ensure student safety.

School of Environmental and Biological Sciences professor Barbara Turpin and Cook campus Dean of Students Michelle Jefferson hold “Responsible Drinking Happy Hour” every month, an event that allows anyone of legal drinking age with a valid ID to drink safely.

“We allow adults over 21 to take one drink per hour [at the happy hour],” Turpin said at Friday’s happy hour, the last one of the semester. “You don’t have to be 21 to come and eat though.”

The event is held at the Cook Campus Center on the first Friday of every month while classes are in session, Jefferson said. The happy hour is meant to bring a sense of community to the University.

“The [intent is] to promote casual interaction between faculty, students and staff,” she said.

Turnout for an average happy hour event can get 400 to 500 people during the three-hour period, Jefferson said.

The happy hour has been hosted on Cook campus in the past, and the occasion has become a University tradition, she said.

“There has been a Cook campus Happy Hour since before I can remember,” Turpin said.

The happy hour aims to educate students on how to drink safely, she said.

“We even have breathalyzers to see the alcohol level of drinkers. The main point [of the happy hour] is for people to drink responsibly,” Turpin said.

Jessica Castoro, a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences junior, believes the event does a good job of bridging the gap between students and faculty.

“It’s a good idea because it encourages safe drinking habits,” she said. “The happy hour shows that the deans do care [about drinking habits].”

The Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs also has an arrangement to help members of the greek community drink responsibly, said Joann Arnholt, dean of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs.

“All chapters are required to organize or attend one program per year on the topic of alcohol use and misuse,” she said.

The programs, taught by content experts, focus on educating fraternity and sorority members on the dangers of binge drinking, Arnholt said. The meetings are all handled in person.

“The Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs does not [mandate an online course]. Some national organizations do,” she said.

The Rutgers University Police Department has also adopted strategies to protect students who are underage and might misuse alcohol, said Lt. Michael Rein of the Rutgers University Police Department.

While drinking under the age of 21 is prohibited in New Jersey, a state citation known as NJSA 2C:33-15 has been put in place in case of an emergency concerning underage drinkers, Rein said. Under the law, which was amended on Oct. 2, 2009, underage drinkers are provided with legal protections if there is a serious illness involved, Rein said. To receive the protection, the underage person must call 9-1-1 to report that another underage person requires medical assistance because of alcohol consumption.

“The underage person who received medical assistance also shall be immune from prosecution under NJSA 2C:33-15,” Rein said.

Rein said the rule was possibly created as a way get underage drinkers to cooperate with law enforcement.

“As I understand it, the legislature passed this amendment to NJSA 2C:33-15 as an attempt to combat the adverse effects of not calling for emergency assistance for an individual who is intoxicated and clearly in need of emergency medical care for fear of criminal prosecution,” he said.

Rein said since its introduction, the amendment has provided a positive impact on the way dangerous drinking is treated.

“The law has been successful in increasing the likelihood that individuals in need of emergency medical treatment receive such treatment in a prompt and appropriate manner,” he said.

Even with the rule, Rein said the RUPD does not advocate underage drinking and maintain that those who can legally drink do so safely.


By Richard Conte

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