Ole Miss finds serious alcohol problems at school - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Syan Rhodes

Ole Miss finds serious alcohol problems at school

After the deaths of three students in alcohol related crashes, the death of Ole Miss Police Officer Robert Langley - allegedly at the hands of a intoxicated student - and after home-game weekends full of alcohol arrests, the University now openly admits, it has a problem and they're taking bold steps to fix it.

"A culture of abuse and illegal drinking." That's the finding of an Ole Miss task force assigned to evaluate the depth of the University's alcohol problem.

It's a problem the University is partly responsible for, according to the task force, because of inconsistent policies and practices.

"There shouldn't be two messages going out; it's okay here, it's not okay there," said Douglass Sullivan-Gonzalez, Dean of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College.

For example, Ole Miss has a prohibition policy, but the Task Force says it is not enforceable during major campus events like tailgating at the Grove. And at the football stadium, the University actually sells alcohol in clubs and suites, but it's not allowed in the stands.

In a three page report, the task force, headed by Dean Douglass Sullivan-Gonzalez, makes nine recommendations, including making permanent a new two-strikes-and-you're-out suspension policy for students arrested on any alcohol violation.

"We want consequences for behavior," said Sullivan-Gonzalez.

"I've seen consequences of alcohol decisions," said Ole Miss Freshman Robyn Hornsby, who lost her sister in an alcohol-related crash. She understands why the University is taking these steps, but feels some measures, such as a the two-strikes rule, go too far.

"You're comparing a 'minor in possession' to a 'D-U-I' and I just think maybe there needs to be a middle ground and maybe more student input," she said.

Sullivan-Gonzalez countered, "Everyone's on the same game playing field, we all want to save lives. We don't want to bury anyone else."

The question is, will a change in policy change student behavior?

The full Alcohol Task Force will present its final report to chancellor Robert Khayat next week. It will then be up to him to decide which recommendations to implement.

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