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

Wildlife, guns and property taxes are on the agenda in 2018

State lawmakers are pre-filing bills they hope to pass in the 2018 legislative session.

Spring start set for big Everett apartment complex

The building will be eight stories tall, with seven of those visible from Broadway.

Amtrak service from Seattle north unaffected by DuPont wreck

Sound Transit reported no disruptions for its Sounder commuter trains serving Edmonds and Seattle.

Two from Oak Harbor killed in head-on, 2-car crash

One car crossed the center line, hitting the other car. Both drivers died.

Clues in recovered backpack help identify robbery suspect

Police find a ticket with the man’s name on it after an attempted shoplifting at a Safeway.

Herald photos of the week

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

Police presence returns to Edmonds School District

Jacob Hubby is set to walk the halls of Meadowdale High School as a school resource officer.

County budget takes effect without Somers’ signature

The council passed its version with unanimous support and could have overridden an executive veto.

Separate Everett fires send man to hospital, damage boat

The man was hospitalized for smoke inhalation from the early morning fire.

Most Read