The attitudes toward alcohol that students have upon arriving at Ferris vary greatly, but the presence of drinking underage on a college campus is often an inescapable reality.
For students who have been caught drinking underage while at school, they are familiar with how the penal system treats this matter, and what the ramifications are of a minor in possession (MIP) ticket.
Ferris’ Department of Public Safety (DPS) Police Chief Marty Bledsoe said that students need to understand that there is more than one side to underage drinking.
“One thing people don’t completely understand: we talk about MIPs being the criminal side. There’s also a civil side,” said Bledsoe.
If a student does something illegal or hurts someone while intoxicated, they can also be sued civilly.
“The number one thing is not necessarily the law and not necessarily the Office of Student Conduct, the number one thing is safety,” said Bledsoe.
“Dave,” a student speaking under the condition of anonymity who has had three such tickets, said, “I can’t say don’t drink because that would be hypocritical of me, but if you are going to make the decision to drink as a minor, be smart about it.”
MIPs can occur both on campus and off. If caught drinking in a residence hall, the resident advisor or hall director may choose to keep the issue within the confines of the campus, or they may choose to involve law enforcement officials beyond campus. The standard result of a first time offense handled through the school is a mandatory online course about alcohol that comes with a fee of $100.
Kristin Norton, the director of the Office of Student Conduct, said, “We don’t focus on the number of incidents a student is involved with but instead consider the nature of the incident and perhaps the pattern of behavior.”
The anonymous student said that of his three tickets, two of them involved the police on campus, and one off campus. For his first MIP, he paid slightly over $200, but his third one was all the way up to $515, with one year probation and 40 hours of community service.
Bledsoe said the rate of MIPs is down by about a third this year. There have been 186 cases of underage drinking so far this year, as opposed to 278 last year and 397 the year prior, according to the Office of Student Conduct. He is not sure of the reason for this drop, but is glad to see it.
Dave said, “After paying about $2,500 in fines and costs, and now being on probation, it really hasn’t affected my over-21 lifestyle. I still go to the bars and drink as often as I did prior to the MIPs, even though I’m not supposed to.”
Dave said he regrets making poor decisions while drinking, but the tickets have not affected his use of alcohol. He did, however, say he was treated fairly and he simply had to deal with the consequences of the choices he made.
“I have talked with other students who have spent time in jail because of a decision they made while intoxicated. Some of these decisions can impact the rest of their lives. It’s always my hope that students are well informed about alcohol, and if they choose to use it, regardless of their age, they do so safely,” said Norton. n