by Melissa Stoakley
Brooke thought she had a decent grasp of drinking in college, but a night ending in the back of a cop car proved her unexpectedly wrong.
At a friend’s house off campus, Brooke—whose name has been changed due to the sensitivity surrounding underage drinking—started her night with two shots of Jack Daniels and a Mike’s Hard Lemonade. With the pre-gaming out of the way, Brooke and her friends took to the streets of San Rafael, ready for the real party to begin. After a couple rounds of beer pong and finishing off an immeasurable amount of Jack straight from the bottle, Brooke was unsure of her total drink count by the time she was ready to call it a night. When the group’s designated driver was nowhere to be found, Brooke took responsibility as the “most sober” one around, got in the front seat of a friend’s car like she had so many times before, and as steadily as she could drove everyone back home.
As the car packed with drunken college students pulled onto Lincoln Ave., Brooke noticed a cop car following closely behind. Pulled over in a neighborhood parking lot, Brooke was asked to complete a number of field sobriety tests when it was obvious to the officer that large quantities of alcohol had been consumed that evening by not only Brooke but the entire car load of students. In an unexpected turn of events, Brooke was hand cuffed, placed in the back seat of the cop car, and driven to Marin County jail were she was booked for an underage DUI.
Her friends were scared that night, and so, too, are administrators across the country who are experiencing a prevalent problem of students abusing or misusing alcohol to the point of high-risk situations where health and safety are concerned. More than 1,800 students die every year of alcohol-related causes. An additional 600,000 are injured while drunk, and nearly 100,000 become victims of alcohol-influenced sexual assaults. One in four say their academic performance has suffered from drinking, all according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
Administrators at Dominican University of California address how, even at a small private school, they still face the same problems that those at larger public institution experience; it is just roughly one to their 20. Stories like Brooke’s are good educational moments that exemplify how students at Dominican are given the same opportunities to make the same poor decisions concerning alcohol consumption as students at other institutions. Levi Shanks, Director for Student Rights and Responsibilities at Dominican, believes a solution from here would be to address misconceptions about alcohol in hopes of educating those who actively choose to drink because, if it is occurring, it must be done in a responsible manner that does not put students at risk legally or health wise. Dominican currently works closely with the San Rafael Alcohol Compliance team and administers a program called Campus Clarity that educates all new students on alcohol consumption and sexual misconduct.