UI president: College drinking is a health crisis

POCATELLO, Idaho — The interim president for the University of Idaho says the school is hiring additional staff, tightening up drug and alcohol use policies and enforcing restrictions on fraternity and sorority programs at the Moscow campus.

Don Burnett told the Idaho State Board of Education about the changes on Thursday during a meeting in Pocatello. The recommendations came from two task forces formed by former UI President Duane Nellis after a student died of hypothermia following a fraternity party in January.

“This is a public health crisis,” Burnett said about excessive drinking and substance abuse among college students.

Since 2004, there have been three serious injuries and five University of Idaho student deaths, all blamed on alcohol consumption. Burnett said national statistics show 40 percent of college students drink alcohol excessively.

UI Dean of Students Bruce Pitman said the new policy requires all incoming freshman to take a three-hour class on substance abuse, healthy relationships and “bystander intervention.” If a freshman fails to achieve at least a 1.0 grade point during a semester, “we’re going to invite them to leave,” Pitman said.

The university will enter memorandums of understanding with fraternities and sororities that are active at the school, stating specific guidelines for alcohol-related activities. Those Greek organizations that don’t comply will no longer be recognized by the university or get any of the benefits provided to official school organizations.

“I think this will be a change in the relationship between the Greek life organizations and the university,” Burnett said, adding that he thinks the organizations will be on board with the changes.

The university is also hiring two new staffers who will work to implement and enforce the new policies, Burnett said. The school reallocated funding to create the positions because Burnett said he felt the university shouldn’t wait for the next round of appropriations.

More in Local News

Majority of Marysville City Council seats are contested

The most closely watched race is between Mark James and Donna Wright.

500 tires go up in flames at a store south of Everett

There were no injuries. And it was nowhere near as bad as that months-long tire fire in 1984.

Inclusion super important to Monroe High senior

Sarah Reeves worked to make homecoming more representative of the student population.

A pot deal between teens leaves them injured, facing charges

Police found out about the incident when both ended up at the same hospital that night.

Funds up for council vote would aid conservation district

District stands to receive an extra $1 million each year, if the County Council gives its approval.

Herald photos of the week

A weekly collection of The Herald’s best images by staff photographers and… Continue reading

Lake Stevens man injured by 50-foot fall near Leavenworth

The rescuers had to tie in to keep from falling due to the steep rugged terrain.

Mill Creek hires Gina Hortillosa as public works director

Hortillosa will be responsible for creating strategic infrastructure plans to promote economic growth.

Most Read