WSU has new policies to curb binge drinking

August 12, 2013 

Washington State University is implementing new alcohol and drug policies a week before the fall semester starts to discourage binge drinking and substance abuse among students.

The changes, developed by a task force, are meant to better educate students, especially freshmen, about the risks of drinking, officials said in a press release.

WSU's Richland campus will be subject to the new policies, though local university officials said alcohol hasn't caused problems for Tri-City students.

WSU President Elson S. Floyd convened the task force last year to develop the policy changes in the wake of freshman Kenny Hummel's death from alcohol poisoning on the Pullman campus.

Some of the new policies, such as adding alcohol-free floors to residence halls on the Pullman campus and an agreement with Pullman Regional Hospital to screen students seen with alcohol-related illnesses or injuries, won't affect the Richland campus.

But there is also a new requirement that the university contact the parents of any student under 21 the first time they violate the school's rules against underage drinking.

The university also will place more emphasis on substance abuse prevention education with freshmen, screening and intervention of at-risk students and even shifting more classes to Friday mornings to give students less incentive to party on Thursday nights.

Melissa O'Neil Perdue, spokeswoman for WSU Tri-Cities, said there has been only one alcohol-related offense on the campus going back to 2008. Someone was cited in May on a minor in possession of alcohol charge, but that incident occurred after classes were out for the summer and there's no indication the suspect was a WSU student.

The new policies are less strict than similar rules at Columbia Basin College, which bans alcohol on its Pasco campus, said CBC President Rich Cummins.

Cummins or Bill Saraceno, CBC's senior vice president for administration, can grant exceptions to the college's global ban on alcohol on its campus. Those exceptions are generally only for events organized by the CBC Foundation, corporate donors or a state-level organization.

Students who violate the college's rule against underage drinking or consuming alcohol on campus can face a number of penalties, from a warning to suspension and expulsion.

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