University of Oklahoma Regents Could Relax Alcohol Policy

OKLAHOMA CITY

University of Oklahoma regents will consider slightly relaxing the school’s “Three Strikes Policy” for alcohol use that was put into effect after a student’s death from alcohol poisoning three years ago.

Students who have three alcohol-related violations or “strikes” under the policy can be suspended from school.

The regents, who will meet Wednesday in Lawton, will take up a proposal that would formalize the school’s practice of not issuing a “strike” to drunk students who use OU’s SafeRide program or seek medical attention.

“I’m extremely encouraged by the cultural change which appears to have taken place on our campus as demonstrated by a dramatic drop in alcohol offenses,” OU President David Boren said Tuesday in a statement. “It is important to continue to work to improve our policy as there is still too much unsafe behavior on campuses across the country, indicated by approximately 1,800 student alcohol-related deaths on college and university campuses last year.”

The proposed new rule also would automatically defer “first strikes” for the charges of minor in possession and-or public intoxication.

It would provide that the deferred first strikes not be considered official “offenses” or maintained in OU disciplinary records as long as no additional alcohol offenses take place within 12 months of the first strike.

If a second alcohol-related offense is committed within the 12-month period, the deferral of the first strike would be revoked and the student would then have two strikes, under the proposed new rule. Students would only be entitled to one deferred strike while at OU.

The proposal also would clarify what constitutes an organizational event under OU’s policy and when organizations can be held accountable for violations of the alcohol policy as opposed to individuals being held accountable, Boren said.

The current policy went into effect four months after 19-year-old freshman Blake Hammontree of Medford died in October 2004 after drinking at an OU fraternity house. The policy now requires that students be suspended for at least one semester after a third violation of an alcohol-related law or school rule.

Regents tweaked the policy last December, allowing students who had one strike to request it be removed from their record if certain requirements were met.

Boren said OU wants “to encourage students to take appropriate actions which impact their own safety and that of fellow students” and that students should not have to be worried about whether seeking medical attention will result in any disciplinary acion by the university.

He said that he has “no plans to change any other aspects of the policy at this time.”

The OU regents traditionally hold one meeting a year in Lawton, home of Cameron University, which they govern along with OU and Rogers State University in Claremore.



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