Originally created 01/03/06

UGA moves against booze culture



It could be an unhappy new year for University of Georgia students who booze it up and get out of hand. Instead of receiving a citation from UGA police, they're going to be hauled off to jail.

This isn't so much a change in policy as it a reversion to an old policy that was abandoned in 1998, after parents complained about the way students were treated after being arrested.

Authorities decided to cut the kids a break, and for the past seven years campus cops issued citations. The hope was that a softer police policy would engender more responsible behavior.

It didn't work; in fact, it seemed to encourage more drunkenness and less civility. So UGA is returning to the "get tough" prison policy. "Being cuffed and sent to jail will be ... more of a memorable experience (than a citation)," says UGA Police Chief Jimmy Williams.

Williams says he hopes the harsher policy will change the campus culture and "increase students' sense of responsibility." The experience of neighboring communities shows that arresting unruly UGA students - many of whom are also charged with underage drinking - does have a sobering impact, i.e., fewer ugly incidents.

Kids who drink too much have too much time on their hands. Perhaps the faculty also could help by giving them more homework. More learning and less partying should improve campus culture and boost students' sense of responsibility.

It's certainly better than prison.