Think before you underage drink at Wilkes

Amanda Bialek, Staff Writer

All it takes is one time.

A night out partying with friends and getting caught drinking underage can have some serious repercussions on your future.

“Underage drinking is a challenge on college campuses across the country, and Wilkes is certainly not immune to it,” Dr. Philip Ruthkosky, associate dean of student affairs/development said.

According to the Wilkes University Clery Report of 2014, there has been a significant increase in the amount of liquor law violations on campus over the last few years. In 2011, there were 88 liquor law violations; in 2014 there were 172.

Underage drinking is a pressing issue college campuses everywhere face. Christopher Jagoe, director of Public Safety, believes that the drinking culture is heavily glorified in movies and television shows.

This ultimately leads to an expectation for underage drinking to occur in college.

When students have the opportunity to be away from their parents and support systems, they tend to be more independent, Jagoe said.

This independence may involve drinking underage for some students.

In 2015, Sergeant Seth Pesta reported that there were 106 disciplinary referrals on campus: Of them, 89 occurred in residence halls. The majority of these liquor law violations were underage drinking incidents.

“It’s rare that we have a liquor law violation on campus that’s not involving a student,” Philip Miller, lieutenant of Public Safety said.

There are problematic behaviors that are attached to drinking underage, Jagoe said. Some risky behaviors associated with alcohol are sexual assault, damaging public property and inflicting injury upon yourself or another individual.

According to the Journal of American College Health, a 2009 study found that “more than 80 percent of campus sexual assaults involve alcohol.”

Mike Lyttle, regional supervisor for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s Nashville crime lab, said, “Alcohol is the number one date rape drug,” according to a USATODAY.com story.

Students who choose to drink underage may assume that it will not affect them later on in life.

They are wrong, officials state.

Background checks are an important part of the job application process. Even if a student does not get in trouble with the legal system, an incident that was only sanctioned through the university can still be traced when applying for a job, Miller said.

This could cause embarrassment when speaking to a potential employer.

With the competitive job market, a company will choose someone to fill a position over you if they have no alcohol incidents and you do.

“One time going out and having a couple of drinks, using a fake ID, or going to someone’s apartment or doing something in one of the residence halls and you’re underage, you place yourself in jeopardy if you’re caught with that sort of thing,” Jagoe said.