Making crime pay

Despite the many St. Ambrose University sponsored events on campus, students still complain that there is nothing to do on a Friday or Saturday night besides drink. SAU does not encourage any sort of underage drinking on campus, so they are coming up with new activities for students to fill their weekends with.

These campus sponsored events range from all sorts of activities such as keeping the gyms open later on weekends, to hosting bags tournaments with prizes, to even bacon tasting events. But what makes these events different from other school sponsored events is the way they are funded.

Ambrose has a process for alcohol offenders on campus. A students first offense is an educated decisions class. This class helps students realize the actual alcohol content of drinks so they can make more educated decisions if they do choose to drink. The second and third offenses come with a fine of $50, community service hours and also a notification to parents back home. Ambrose has always had fines in place for alcohol offenders, but what’s new this year is what the fine money is being put toward.

“What we’re doing now is changing it from the old way,” said Director of Residence Life, Matt Hansen. “Instead of the money going nowhere, now it goes into a specific fund that anyone, including the person who has been fined, can apply for access to those funds to put toward a late night, non-alcoholic related, event. So if I violate the rules and I get fined $50, I know it’s going there.”

There has been quite a debate in the Res Life offices on whether fines were even a good idea in the first place. For some students, a $50 fine means that it’s taken straight from the student account paid by parents, and it’s no big deal. For other students, a $50 fine might mean that that student isn’t paying for a book for a class.

“There is no way that we can make a plan that affects every student in the same way, but with fines, receiving a fine on your student account forces a conversation that parents and students might not otherwise have,” Hansen said. “Because if there is suddenly a fine on your account that says ‘alcohol fine,’ then you’re going to have a conversation. We typically, through the handbook, say that parental notification will be administered at that level of violation anyways, so we’re not that concerned about putting someone in an awkward spot. But we do see that that is the inherit flaw with fines. We also see that it’s not a black and white subject. If a student said that I really cannot afford this, then that would be a conversation that we would have to have.”

Anyone can create one of these late night funded events. If a group of students would like to create a bag tournaments in the gym, order pizza and pop, and have a $25 gift card for the winner, that’s where the money will come from. All ideas must be submitted through the Residence Life offices for approval.

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