Will new fines help keep UVM students in line? - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Will new fines help keep UVM students in line?

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BURLINGTON, Vt. -

For students at the University of Vermont, a new school year means new fines. Beginning this semester, any student caught on campus with drugs or alcohol could face fines of more than $250.

School officials say fines have deterred students from using drugs and alcohol on other campuses.

"We have been a part of a larger, national project these past two years called the National College Health Improvement Project. And so we've learned from other campuses about what they're doing," said Annie Stevens, the vice president for student affairs at UVM.

Even empties will get you fined. A student caught with an empty container will have to hand over $150. Resident assistants will do random inspections.

"From there, we're looking at what we call a common source, which is more than 12 servings in any given room. There's a particular fine for that; it's $250 or more, depending upon how much alcohol is in the room. And then for drug use and possession it's really $150 and then a second offense would be $250," Stevens said.

"I remember when I was an RA; I mean it wasn't that hard to impose these rules, wasn't hard to keep people under control. I think this is a little bit above and beyond," said Patrick Smerczynski, a senior at UVM.

Last year, UVM saw 716 alcohol-related cases, like drunken fights, and 294 drug-related cases. The school plans to do whatever it takes to lower those numbers.

"We have everything from a program called basics to alcohol EDU for sanctions. We have some other evidence-based research that we're using, fines is just a part of all of that," Stevens said.

But some students don't think anything can hold a college kid back from partying hard.

"They're so excited for getting out and getting to school, they're not listening to you," Smerczynski said. "They have their idea of what they want to do and they're gonna do it until they get caught."

And if they do get caught on campus or in a dorm, a conduct board will investigate.

"That all gets figured out with a different staff member, someone who is more objective and they work through who is taking responsibility, who is not and then the appropriate sanctions are given," Stevens said.

So, where exactly will all of this money go? It will reward students who don't violate UVM's policy with on-campus events or to pay for a mandatory online program called eCheck to go for students who are caught with marijuana. Other programs aimed at deterring alcohol and drug use would also see some of the money.

So the message from the school-- if you don't have the cash to spare, keep drugs and alcohol off campus.

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