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Gerry Broome/AP
Duke University Campus

Colleges Crack Down on Off-Campus Transgressions

August 25, 2008 10:36 AM
by Emily Coakley
What happens off campus no longer stays off campus at some universities, as administrators cross property lines to police students’ behavior.

University Officials Work with Local Police

Pennsylvania State University, University of Colorado—Boulder and the University of Washington are a few of the schools whose officials are using the student judicial system to punish students for off-campus behavior, according to the Associated Press.

Schools have different ways of monitoring students’ off-campus exploits. Some work with local police to find out who has been arrested during the weekends. At Boston College, an official goes out looking for off-campus parties. Seattle University monitors Facebook and similar sites, and last year shut down off-campus parties mentioned on the social networking hubs.

Earlier this month, officials at the University of Florida in Gainesville proposed new policies for its student conduct code to cut down on partying, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. The rules, such as banning drinking games, apply to students off-campus too, though a university spokeswoman said that enforcement outside of school property would likely happen only in “extreme cases.”

Duke University, in Durham, N.C., requires students to report each other to campus officials even if the offending behavior does not take place on campus. Duke gained national notoriety when three members of the school’s lacrosse team were charged with rape based on accusations from an exotic dancer they had hired to perform at an off-campus party on March 2006. The students were exonerated in 2007.
For the most part, neighbors of students misbehaving off campus have welcomed the university crackdowns. But an attorney who used to work with the American Council on Education, Sheldon Steinbach, doesn’t know what the effects of such policies could be in court.

“I fully anticipate judicial challenges over time,” he told the AP.

Background: Duke lacrosse scandal

An off-campus party turned into a life-changing ordeal for members of Duke University’s lacrosse team after an exotic dancer hired to perform at the party accused three players of rape. The men were ultimately cleared and the district attorney prosecuting them was disbarred. But the case damaged the university’s reputation, caused a rift in Durham, and created a national media frenzy.

Related Topic: Lowering the drinking age to curb student drinking?

In August 2008 dozens of university presidents past and present called for the drinking age to be lowered to 18, arguing that the move would curb binge drinking by removing the taboo of alcohol. Opponents to the plan argue that a lower age limit will merely make it easier for young people to obtain liquor.

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