President Driscoll: Taking a Stand, Together
You have seen the images on the news, in social media, and in the movie theater. Crowds of young people clogging a busy street. Crazy antics like jumping on cars. Excessive consumption of alcohol and other drugs.
Excessive college student partying across the nation is a complex problem. At age 18, students are legal adults, and part of what they are supposed to learn when they go off to college is how to manage their lives without their parents and guardians
running behind them. It is supposed to be a time of experimentation, of personal growth by trying new things, and of making mistakes that end up being learning opportunities. As a parent, when I sent my kids off to college, I wanted them to reach beyond
the boundaries we set in our household, but that never would have included receiving a phone call from one of them, saying, “Dad, I’ve been expelled for throwing a party that got out of hand.”
Campuses across the country are plagued by some students who take these concepts way too far by conforming to mob mentality, putting themselves and innocent bystanders in danger, being a nuisance to the host community, and taking a toll on their universities’
Many people were shocked by these very things, which occurred in Indiana last March in connection with St. Patrick’s Day. Alumni have told us they are disappointed by what they saw in social media venues. Many of our students are appalled and concerned
for how this kind of behavior affects the worth of their degrees. Many Indiana residents are exasperated by what occurred.
So am I.
Now two years into my presidency, this has been my greatest challenge so far, especially because I—and we—are committed to providing students a high-quality education in a safe, productive environment and preparing the good citizens of tomorrow. IUP’s response to this national issue has not been to hide under our desks and point fingers or hope another situation like it will not occur again. We have the imperative to find solutions, and we are acting.
Betsy Chimock Sarneso ’93, M’94, of the Center for Student Life, and Michael Driscoll addressed the more than 350 sorority and fraternity members who picked up trash from Indiana’s streets March 9, following the previous day’s parties. (Photo: The Penn)
Students who make misguided decisions must come to understand that their actions affect many people and their very own future. It is our job to reinforce appropriate, responsible behavior. We also must ensure that students understand the drawbacks of social media in these situations—that mass messages mean they can’t control who or how many show up at the party and that their own future professional reputations may come under scrutiny.
We recently invited the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency to conduct a review of what occurred in March. PEMA officials interacted with a comprehensive list of stakeholders, from law enforcement and elected officials to landlords and busines owners—and, of course, members of IUP’s staff. This reflects my belief that everyone needs to work together. Stakeholders at our May briefing on the review’s results concluded that we must all work more closely together to combat excessive drinking and its consequences. As a result, we established a leadership task force that will continue meeting.
For years, IUP’s Student Conduct office has received from local law enforcement incident reports for students who are cited off campus. Those students are placed in the university’s adjudication system and face fines and other measures sanctioned by
the university, in addition to the consequences they face in the off-campus court system. In May, the university’s Council of Trustees voted to significantly increase student conduct fines.
IUP always has collaborated with off-campus law enforcement agencies, and we will seek ways to enhance our working relationship.
Enforcement alone, even with the addition of well-coordinated new tactics, will not be enough, however.We will strategically create a framework for continuous prevention as well as continue practices we know are effective. I’ve been
impressed with the work our campus community has done in terms of peer education and other programming—for example, the PartySmart program. Piloted by our Center for Student Life last spring, PartySmart brought more than 100 students in direct contact
with local officials to learn about ordinances and consequences. Still, there is more to do, and we will continue to work closely with the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, other agencies, and students to plan and refine.
We know our action plan will include additional education, activities, preparation, and enforcement. We know it will be defined by an inclusive group of stakeholders working together, it will draw from best practices employed by others, and it will build
on the work we already are doing.
Kate Linder’s words in “Reining in the Party,” are true and worth repeating. Combatting this issue here and everywhere else will take action and messages from many people—parents, the university, the community, alumni, and, most of all, students themselves.
Keep Reading: We Are Not Alone »
More from the Summer 2014 Issue of IUP Magazine
For more than 20 years, alumnus Rick McMaster has shared his passion for science with hundreds of thousands of children in central Texas.
The women’s rugby club lacked a coach, visibility, and the funds to go to the national tournament, but its title run was the stuff Hollywood movies are made of.
Providing feedback on this issue of IUP Magazine will help to improve the product and earn you a chance at winning an IUP sweatshirt. Complete the online survey by September 1, 2014, to be eligible.
The IUP Alumni Association presented its highest honor to 10 alumni in fields ranging from the arts and culinary arts to the military and television and film production.
Each summer, the campus provides learning opportunities to students from elementary through high school while giving valuable experience to IUP student helpers.
Former Keith School students, student teachers, and faculty members will gather this fall to say goodbye to the building.