The University of South Carolina is cracking down on its image as a party school.
According to The State Newspaper, in the past year, the University has seen
- A 22 percent increase in alcohol-related charges
- Temporary suspension of fraternity rush
- Three alcohol –related deaths
USC’s most recent effort to curb drinking and shed the party school image involves taking away students’ football tickets and issuing stiffer fines to those caught drinking on campus.
Are the programs actually working? That question is up in the air, but if a video that surfaced last week is any indication, then the answer is probably not.
Last week a video surfaced of a large pool party at an off-campus student apartment complex known as The Woodlands. The party reportedly drew close to 800 people. The video shows hundreds of residents and University students holding beer cans and urging a girl to remove her bikini top. The crowd starts chanting “U-S-C” as the girl removes her top.
The video surfaced on Tosh.0, a Comedy Central show. The Daily Gamecock, the University’s student newspaper, referred to the event as a “rowdy, booze-soaked, ‘Girls Gone Wild’-esque pool party”. The Daily Gamecock conducted surveys on Facebook and Twitter regarding the video and found many students said the video was “trashy and embarrassing” and “disgraceful”.
Shedding the Party School Reputation
Making matters worse, the University of South Carolina recently ranked number 17 on Princeton Review’s annual party school list. Some students seemed impressed by the party school rankings, but school administrators and officials are not.
“We’re interested in the (football) rankings or the green school rankings,” states Gene Luna, USC’s associate vice president for housing and student development. “Not this,” he continues.
To downplay USC’s party school image, the University is fighting back against underage and excessive drinking. The University’s newest efforts include raising fines for on-campus underage drinking from $50 to $250 for the first offense, including a phone call to the student’s parents. If a student is caught a second time drinking underage on campus they will receive a $350 fine, up from the previous fine of $100. The student will also write an essay about the effect drinking has on their academics and finances. A third strike for the student means they are out. If caught three times for underage drinking, the student will automatically receive a suspension for the semester.
For each offense, the University requires students to go through educational interviews and counseling, states Alisa Liggett, director of student conduct.
For the past six years, the University makes all incoming students take an online alcohol education course before arriving on campus. Alcohol education is also a key component to student orientation.
The University is also implementing new programs each year including most recently a free taxi service for students partying in the Five Points District. Additionally, USC implemented a program called “Stand Up Carolina” encouraging students to intervene in cases of sexual assault, excessive drinking and drug use. Public-service messages for the program will play on the new big screen at football games.
Say Goodbye to Football
Speaking of football games, if fines and essays are ineffective in curbing underage drinking, then maybe a loss of football tickets will drive the point home.
The University recently implemented new ticketing procedures and policies. At the beginning of season, students are able to request season tickets. If officials remove a student from Williams-Brice Stadium, the student will automatically lose their tickets to future football games. With this policy, University officials hope to see a reduction in the number of students kicked out of football games. Last year stadium officials removed an estimated 150 students each football game, with half of the expulsions due to alcohol-related offenses.
Why the Increase?
The University hopes these new policies will decrease alcohol-related offenses as the student body increases. The University has undergone an enrollment boom for the past three years. From 2009 to 2011, the student population rose by 8 percent.
Since the enrollment boom, alcohol-related offenses at the University are rising.
The number of alcohol-related offenses at USC rose to a total of 1,425 last year, which is up 22 percent from 2010-2011 and 45 percent since 2009-2010.
The University understands that with only 6,600 of the 30,000 students living on campus, controlling the drinking problem calls for more effort including efforts made by student housing complexes including the Woodlands.
In a statement to The State Newspaper, the Woodlands marketing director, Mike Swope, says the company “is more than happy to working with the University.”
The Strom Law Firm represents students and adults charged with alcohol-related offenses including underage drinking and DUI. Our lawyers understand an underage drinking charge can carry stiff penalties including hefty fines and loss of scholarships. We understand good students make mistakes, which is why we are here to help you. If you are facing underage drinking or DUI charges call the Strom Law Firm today for a free consultation. 803.252.4800.