What a pity Universities and colleges in the United Kingdom don’t do this.

Youngsters under 21, often the first time away from home, often drink to excess when they are in college. This can reflect on their academic work, acceptable behaviour and sadly, too often, result in alcohol overdoses. Yet parents, (who are paying the bills !) are not informed unless or until the situation is one of
asking the student to leave. Well done to the University of Kansas.
Calling parents about alcohol abuse good policy
University of Kansas officials get good marks on policy to notify parents of student drinking
University of Kansas students seeking relief from stress or just a bit of fun may think twice now before inviting alcohol or drugs to the party.

University officials have decided that what underage students are doing in Lawrence doesn’t necessarily have to stay in Lawrence if it involves alcohol or drugs. Henceforth, the university will inform parents when students younger than 21 are found to be in violation of drug and alcohol laws.

We welcome the change in policy at KU, and think universities that don’t phone home now when young students endanger their lives or the lives of others during an incident of substance abuse would do well to follow suit.

It’s the nature of university officials across the country to want to treat their students like responsible adults. However, some students don’t always act like responsible adults, and if a call home and parental intervention will put them back on track, so be it.

In KU’s case, officials had good reason to review the school’s policy and make a change. Alcohol played a role in the deaths of two students this spring.

Jason Wren, 19, of Littleton, Colo., was found dead at a fraternity house March 8 after a night of heavy drinking. He had been kicked out of a university residence hall for earlier incidents involving alcohol. Dalton Hawkins, 18, of Shawnee, died April 24 after falling off the roof of a campus building. An autopsy report indicated he had been drinking.

We think Wren’s family would have been interested in knowing he was having trouble with alcohol and are pretty sure they would have tried to help him with his problem.

It’s unfortunate that universities everywhere, including several in Kansas, have stories about students who were lost to encounters with too much alcohol. Perhaps the changes brought about at the University of Kansas following the deaths of Wren and Hawkins will save some lives.

In addition to calling parents, KU will step up efforts to educate students about drinking and has instituted an amnesty policy meant to encourage students to get help for friends having alcohol-related emergencies.

At Kansas State University, officials notify the parents of underage students who have multiple offenses with alcohol or other controlled substances that occur on the campus. The policy had been in place in KSU residence halls and was extended to the entire campus last fall.

At Washburn University, parents may be notified if a student is deemed to be in a crisis, but the school doesn’t have a policy to notify parents of use.

Stepping in to help a student before he or she has had multiple offenses or is in a crisis situation probably would prove to be more effective, and could save a life.

We’d encourage all universities to review their policies concerning students and alcohol to determine whether they’re doing all they should to ensure someone doesn’t have to call a student’s parents with some really bad news

Source: The Topeka Capital Journal May 10, 2009

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