The costly truth

Consequences of furnishing alcohol to minors are not light

To many students, drinking seems to be a rite of passage in college life. In many circles, alcohol use is simply the norm. Yet, normal as it may seem, alcohol use can carry some very real consequences that many students may not understand.

A wide known fact is the legal age for drinking is 21. Anyone who drinks before this age can be convicted with a minor in possession charge (MIP), which can result in several hundreds of dollars in fines, probation and at maximum even jail time.

“I personally think students don’t understand the consequences and legal issues surrounding alcohol consumption,” Nicole Jablonkski, a first-year pharmacy student, said. “I understand the strict regulation of drinking. Many people who live on campus are underage.”

Many people assume that once they hit the age of 21, they can’t get in trouble for drinking any more so long as they don’t drive. This is not accurate. For every minor who drinks there is someone who provided the alcohol, and they can get into even more trouble for furnishing alcohol to minors. Even being intoxicated in public is both against the law and Ferris’ policy for student conduct on campus.

Furnishing alcohol to minors is a serious offense in the state of Michigan and is a misdemeanor, which can carry a maximum penalty of 60 days in jail and a $1,000 fine per minor. If a student has a party at another individual’s place and the police show up, they can face a charge for every minor at the party that has consumed alcohol.

Many students don’t seem to be aware, or at least mindful, of the consequences surrounding alcohol.

“The school has to keep a professional reputation,” Brett Bieth, a sophomore in health care systems administration, said. “Punishments are both extreme and unknown to the student population. An alcohol conviction can jeopardize your professional career; they really should tell you about that.”

If busted for drinking, students often will go through both the Office of Student Conduct and the court system of Big Rapids.

“Until you get caught, you don’t really know what the punishment is for drinking,” Tim Burke, a sophomore in hotel and food industry management, said. “Fines from the court can be really expensive.”