Substance abuse continues


Sophie Hillmeyer

Despite university policies discussing infractions for underaged drinking and drug use, NMU students regularly commit both.

“There is lots of underaged drinking on campus but we do our best to combat it,” NMU Police Department (NMUPD) Sgt. Thomas Parks said.

The 2017 crime stats required by the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act-Formerly were released on Oct. 1, with nine recorded liquor law violations, down significantly from 34 violations in 2016 and 47 drug law violations, in line with the 46 in 2016.

Cases regarding this on campus are typically communicated to NMUPD by RA’s, RD’s and friends. If there is a medical emergency regarding substance abuse, peers should not be afraid to seek help because NMU does have a medical amnesty policy, meaning students will not be in trouble when calling for help,
Parks said.

“If someone needs medical attention for alcohol or drugs, I’d rather have them call us, or 911. You’re not going to get in trouble, we’d rather have you be safe,” Parks said. “I like this law and I think it’s been good for us. Nothing is worse than investigating a death when it could have been prevented.”

Alcohol is the main substance consumed on campus along with marijuana, which has been increasingly popular within the past few years, Parks said.

“There is a good mixture of marijuana and alcohol, and one doesn’t supersede the other,” Parks said.
Although less common, other drugs do circulate around campus and the medical amnesty law applies to drugs as well, he added.

Once the situations have been controlled, the drug and alcohol allocations are forwarded to the Dean of Students (DOS) office where they determine whether a violation of the student code of conduct has taken place with drugs or alcohol, Parks said.

The consequences for students who have violated the code of conduct varies on past offences and severity of the incident, Haley Rhoades, assistant dean of students said. A severe incident with substance abuse would be classified as one that requires medical transport or assessment, or if there are disruptions to property. After a first minor offense, the student would have a meeting with their resident director and be put on a probationary period, typically varying from 10-12 weeks, Rhoades said. After the second or first severe offense, the student will have a meeting in the DOS office where consequential actions will be discussed.

The probation period provides students with time to evaluate the actions they make on campus, Mary Brundage, assistant dean of students said. Brundage added how Northern does not require any added busy work or fines from students who violate the code of conduct. Probation is not punitive and does not go on a student’s transcript.
“All we can do is give students the tools,” Brundage said. “We respect the fact that students are adults and they’re going to make decisions themselves.”

Brundage said that students do hold a lot of power and an average of 11 percent of students are in the probationary system at any given time.

“I always ask them if there’s anything I can help them with. [I] want them to be successful and healthy and make good decisions,” Rhoades said.

Director of NMUPD Mike Bath could not be reached for additional comment.