When Students Drink

By LeeAnn Kreigh '09

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Movies, music and television create an image — even an expectation — of the hard-partying, heavy-drinking college student, an image that does not appear to reflect the range of student experiences at Pacific.

Nationwide, most college students (about 66 percent) drink alcohol and nearly half binge drink at least occasionally. Similar statistics are not available for Pacific students, but Ryan Aiello, the director of residence life, said he sees more responsible use at Pacific than he did while working at larger universities.

"I think our students are more responsible and take their studies a lot more seriously," he said. "The party scene isn't as large, and I think that's not just about numbers. I think it's the type of student we have here."

The University enforces federal, state and local laws, and according to the official alcohol policy, expects students to "conduct themselves maturely and responsibly, always respecting the rights of others." In the fall term of 2007, 79 violations of the University's alcohol policy occurred, which included infractions such as having an open container on campus and consuming alcohol in a common area.

Students who violate the alcohol policy go before seven fellow students who serve on the Peer Review Board, where Assistant Dean of Students Julie Murray Jensen said, "Our focus is on educating the individual student and protecting the community, so we're never saying the person is a bad person — we're saying the behavior is not appropriate for the community."

Aiello added, "Our students overall are incredibly well behaved. I meet with conduct officers at other schools, and our students are terrific. They make mistakes, but they typically learn from them and move on."

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*National statistic from the Department of Health and Human Services' 2006 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.