Letter to the editor | Implement zero-tolerance policy on alcohol abuse

October 10, 2013 

According to “Penn State conference takes aim at alcohol abuse” (CDT, Tuesday), Penn State Vice President for Student Affairs Damon Sims thinks “Penn State and State College have had real success in the many efforts we’ve engaged in (against alcohol abuse) in recent years. ...”

Sims didn’t provide any evidence to support that. In contrast, State College Police Chief Tom King did provide evidence about alcohol abuse by Penn State students, making Sims’ belief untenable.

Alcohol abuse by students is worse than ever, by any metric one chooses to consider, despite university and borough leaders’ well-intentioned efforts to cope with it (the university’s code of conduct for students and Office of Judicial Affairs, Downtown Safety Enforcement Program, Partnership for Campus and Community United Against Dangerous Drinking, etc.).

Penn State students who are inclined to abuse alcohol are either unaware of university and borough efforts to address that problem or don’t perceive them as disincentives.

A strong disincentive is needed to affect students’ behavior.

The most obvious one would be a well-publicized university policy to immediately expel any student who is convicted of an alcohol-related violation of state law (underage drinking or public drunkenness, for example), with no refund of tuition or fees already paid to the university.

That sanction has never been publicly discussed by university or borough officials or other community leaders, including members of CDT’s editorial board.

That appalling fact is strong evidence that they are not serious about this problem.

Phil Edmunds

State College

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