Minors in possession

Police agencies, university educate students on the consequences of an MIP

Ferris sophomore pre-med major Danielle Metts has heard of many students receiving minor in possession (MIP) tickets at Ferris parties.

Despite students receiving MIPs, Ferris Director of the Department of Public Safety (DPS) Bruce Borkovich believes Ferris students do a great job of “policing” themselves in regards to drinking.

“Obviously [getting an MIP is] a big fear of any college student who underage drinks but I’ve always wondered ‘is your life over if you get an MIP?’ or what the process that you go through is,” Metts said. “If that ever happened to me I’d be totally clueless.”

An MIP is the “purchase, consumption, or possession of alcoholic liquor by a minor,” according to Michigan.gov.

On average, seven students per week receive an MIP ticket according to Big Rapids Director of DPS Andrea Nerbonne. The majority of MIPs are given out at the beginning and end of the school year.

“The person does not have to be standing there with a drink in their hand to get an MIP,” Borkovich said. “If they have alcohol in their system and the officer has evidence of that through sobriety tests and a preliminary breath test (PBT), then the underage drinker can receive a minor in possession ticket.”

Students aren’t usually lodged in jail after receiving a MIP, unless there is a secondary offense such as running from the police, fighting the police or littering, according to Big Rapids police officer Jim Eddinger.

After receiving an MIP, an arraignment date in court is scheduled. Eddinger explained the person will pay a fine for their first time receiving a MIP.

“For the second offense [the MIP recipient] could have a higher fine, there will be license sanctions and if they’re students at Ferris, they could have trouble with judicial services [office of student conduct],” Eddinger said.

Borkovich also said the Ferris officer decides if the student will be referred to the Office of Student Conduct (OSC) on campus.

“When a student is found doing something wrong, they can be referred to the [OSC], they can be issued a ticket or arrested, or both,” Borkovich said.

The Associate Dean of Student Life and interim director of the Office of Student Conduct Nicholas Campau deals with student alcohol- related charges.

The OSC cannot charge a student with the MIP ticket, but they can take disciplinary action following policy violations.

“Our baseline sanction for a first time offense is an administrative warning,” Campau said. “We ask [students] to take our online alcohol class ‘Under the Influence.’”

It costs students $100 or 10 hours of community service for the class. For multiple alcohol- related charges directed to the OSC, students may have parents notified, go to counseling or perform community service according to Campau.

Students seeking medical help voluntarily without police assistance cannot be charged with an MIP according to Eddinger.

Students must be taken to the hospital if their blood alcohol content (BAC) is above 0.3, according to Borkovich because this may be constituted as binge drinking. According to the Michigan Department of Community Health, excessive drinking costs Michigan $8.2 billion. This figure was taken in 2006 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“I haven’t seen the type of binge drinking here that I have seen at other universities,” Borkovich said.

Nerbonne said approximately five Ferris students are sent to the hospital each year.

Last year a student was found unresponsive in the snow after consuming copious amounts of alcohol. He came very close to death but was saved by the effort of the Grand Rapids medical team.

“I think that’s really scary because he could have died,” Metts said. “If only one of his friends could’ve taken him to the hospital.”

Governor Snyder recently passed the Michigan amnesty law which allows a minor to contact medical service personal or law enforcement with an alcohol related health concern without being prosecuted.

Spectrum Health Big Rapids emergency department director Ginny Keusch explained the procedure when students visit the hospital for alcohol poisoning.

“The treatment for all ER patients begins with a Triage process, which is a quick exam and obtaining information about why a patient presents to the ER,” Keusch said. “A team of healthcare professionals, generally a physician, a RN and a tech, begin to make a ‘care plan’ to help the patient recover.”

Keush said that a patient admitted to the ER for alcohol poisoning could cost anywhere from $2,500-$3,500, but may be higher depending on the individual and service needed. Medical personnel appreciates when students bring their friends in to the ER to seek medical help.

It’s not like we’re out to arrest every MIP, that’s not our [goal],” Nerbonne said. “We want [students] to be safe.”