For many students, returning to UB warrants a celebration with a group of close friends and a couple of beers. For some of those, however, the celebrations will lead only to arrests, as university officials continue to enforce a policy of zero tolerance against alcohol abuse and underage drinking.
Four students in South Lake Village were arrested Aug. 25 and charged with endangering the welfare of minors when over 20 underage students were found drinking at a party the four had thrown.
"Enforcement of alcohol [policies] on campus has always been a priority," said John Grela, director of University Police. "There are consequences for someone who's providing alcohol."
The students were charged and assigned court dates with the Amherst Town Court, and were also referred to the Student Wide Judiciary. Essentially, the students were found guilty of two offenses: one, serving underage drinkers, and two, breaking the housing agreement signed upon entry into the apartments. As a result of the second offense, the students can be suspended from campus, although they are allowed a period of ten days to request a hearing with the Office of Student Affairs to contest the suspension.
At the hearing, the incident is reviewed by Student Affairs and student conduct charges may be levied. In the above case, all four students were conditionally allowed back on campus and are currently attending classes.
The recent arrests bring to the forefront the university's efforts to decrease the amount of underage drinking and excessive drinking. According to Grela, alcohol is the number one problem on campus that his office faces.
In his annual effort to reduce the number of alcohol-related incidents, Grela sends out letters to local bars reminding them of the consequences of allowing patrons to overindulge or binge drink. If reported to the State Liquor Authority - something which Grela said he can and will do if he comes across a student who has had a bit too much and can name the last bar he or she visited - the SLA can take action against the bars, who can be fined or even lose their licenses as a result of irresponsible service.
Grela cited the example of Mickey Rat's, a bar located in the current Cloud Nine location, that was fined $10,000 as a result of such an incident.
Additionally, said Grela, when he is aware that a party is in the works, he alerts the Buffalo Police Department and either goes to the party before or during the event to warn the hosts to avoid illegal activities, such as serving alcohol to minors.
The University Police coordinates efforts against drinking with a variety of other on campus offices, including the Student Wide Judiciary, the Living Well Center and the Health Services Center.