Although no one wants to receive a minor in possession of
alcohol citation, if you find yourself getting one this year,
you’re definitely not alone.

The Department of Public Safety has recorded a significant
increase in MIP violations on campus this year. From Aug. 25 to
Oct. 9 this year, 129 MIPs were handed out, compared to 80 MIPs
handed out during the same time period last year.

DPS Capt. Joe Piersante said there could be many reasons for the
increase, but pointed specifically to the larger freshman class and
an increase in pledging activity among the fraternities and
sororities.

“Those are the only two definitive things I can point to.
The rest is just speculation,” Piersante said.

He said DPS officers have noticed more students out at night
because of fall Rush for the Greek system this year.

“Whether that contributes to the overall increase, I
don’t know, but there has been an overall increase in
pledging activity at night where alcohol is involved,”
Piersante said.

Interim Dean of Students Sue Eklund also said she has received
reports of more pledging activity. “There have been more
reports this year that have gotten all the way to my level,”
she said.

But Alan Lovi, spokesman for the Interfraternity Council, said
there has been no change in pledging activity this year.

“There’s nothing different this year than any other
year. Nothing more, nothing less,” said Lovi, an LSA
senior.

Piersante said he has noticed a problem with binge drinking
among all students this year, but it’s hard to tell if there
has been an increase, because like assaults, hospitalizations due
to binge drinking don’t all get reported to DPS.

“One of the things we are concerned with about underage
drinking is binge drinking. We’ve had to transport a number
of kids to the hospital this year. My sense of it is that
we’re getting several of those every weekend,”
Piersante said.

University spokeswoman Julie Peterson, however, said
binge-drinking is becoming more serious at the University.
“We’re now a high-binge campus. We’re above the
national average (for alcohol consumption),” Peterson
said.

Piersante said problems with binge drinking may also be related
to the larger freshman class.

“You have a large group of kids coming on campus from the
younger age group of 18 and 19. I’m guessing a lot of them
have not had a lot of experience with drinking — especially
hard liquor and binge drinking. They’re not able to judge
what their body can tolerate and their body becomes
incapacitated,” he added.

Despite the increase, Piersante said DPS has not changed its
stance with regard to alcohol violations and has not increased
patrols.

Under current alcohol laws, first-time offenders receiving an
MIP are given a deferred sentence. If an offender successfully
completes probation, the MIP will be completely taken off the
person’s permanent record. This is especially helpful when
applying for jobs, Piersante said. “It’s taking into
consideration that there are a lot of people under 21 —
especially on a college campus — that are going to drink.
It’s pretty harsh to have that on your permanent
record,” he added.

Second- and third-time offenders, however, will have harsher
penalties. Second-time offenders can face up to 30 days in jail,
while third-time offenders can be sentenced to 60 days in jail.

Along with the increase in MIPs, there has also been a slight
increase in citations for open containers of alcohol in a motor
vehicle, increasing from none in 2003 to two this year. There has
been a decrease, however, in public urination violations, from 33
in 2003 to 26 this year.

Other alcohol violations — including alcohol in Michigan
Stadium, on the Diag, on University property and open intoxicants
in public — have declined from 86 in 2003 to 63 this
year.

Piersante attributed the decline in alcohol violations to the
University’s home football schedule this year. Although the
same number of football games were played between Aug. 25 and Oct.
9 in 2003 and 2004, the Notre Dame game was played at home last
year.

Piersante said the Notre Dame and Ohio State games always
generate high numbers of alcohol violations. In fact, these two
games alone can almost double the statistics for alcohol violations
in a given year. The game against Michigan State causes a slight
increase, but it’s not as bad, he added.

Piersante said the high number of alochol violations are
probably a result of the intense rivalry and the teams’ short
distance from one another. Columbus, Ohio and South Bend, Ind., are
fairly close to Ann Arbor, so a lot of fans come from those
schools. Because they’re a few hours away, however, people
tend to stay overnight and go to parties, he added.

Piersante said DPS encourages students to be safe while
drinking. “Our biggest concern for public safety concerning
underage drinking is don’t put yourself in harm’s way
— whether it be in a vehicle or a potential assault
situation,” he added.

 

Citations on the rise

Authorities hand out more tickets for minors in possession
of alcohol this year

The Department of Public Safety handed out 129 MIP
citations
between Aug. 25 and Oct. 9 this year. DPS handed out
80 citations last year in the same time period.

DPS said an increase in pledge activity in the Greek
System
could have contributed to the climb in citations.

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