UPD: Something must happen to intoxicated students

Spinnaker

 UNF receives no monetary gain from exporting inebriated students to rehabilitation, detox centers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Spinnaker, since it’s debut as “The Halyard” in 1974, has had access to campus police reports provided by the UPD on a weekly  basis.

In an average week, the Spinnaker picks up a moderate to thick pile of reports from the UPD that behold tales of health- and theft-  related incidents, alcohol and drug policy violations and sometimes flat-out bizarre acts of misbehavior.

Late this summer and early this fall, the Spinnaker started to notice an additional feature on the police reports.

It appeared the practice of sending students who violated alcohol- and drug-related policies to a sleepover at local rehabilitation  and detox centers became more and more characteristic.

Police Chief John Dean said this practice had been going on for quite some time, upward of at least a year and a half, he said.

He explained that sending intoxicated students off to River Point Behavioral Health or the less luxurious option, city detox, was  regular protocol to help ensure students’ safety, health and well-being, and is at an officer’s discretion.

In the case of a student under the influence, he said an officer’s first course of action is to attempt contact with a responsible party,  such as a parent or guardian, and ask if he/she could bring the student to a safe place for the evening.

But in cases where students’ parents or guardians are not in close proximity to campus, their options remain slim. Dean said  students, at this point, have a choice between rehab, detox or jail for the night. And the price tag doesn’t run cheap.

“Students are responsible for covering the expenses of their overnight stay,” Dean said. “It usually runs around $300.”

This monetary consequence is clearly outlined in students’ housing contracts, Dean said.

The Spinnaker conducted an extensive search of student housing contracts and UPD’s Web site for any mention of this practice but only found a policy that says violates a student may be “immediately removed from housing” if he or she violates housing guidelines, including the alcohol and drug policies.

Dean also said the accounts of students being transported to detox and rehabilitation should have been on the reports all along. And that if they’re not, he’d love to see them.

The Spinnaker searched through many older police reports and only found a few did that mentioned detox only, but the amount of transports compared to what has been indicated in recent reports has increased to a noticeable level.

Legal response toward offenders

Although UPD’s actions may seem similar to Baker Acting someone, Dean explained that Baker Acting is utilized strictly when it’s clear that you’re going to harm someone or harm yourself.

“What we’re doing is close to the Marchman Act, but not,” Dean said. “If we were Marchman Acting students, we would actually take them into custody and place them in jail. Riverpoint is something outside of the norm to give students, quite honestly, a more pleasant experience where they’re offered some assistance and released the next day.”

The Marchman Act is clearly defined on the Department of Children and Families’ Web site as “a means of providing an individual in need of substance abuse services with emergency services and temporary detention for substance abuse evaluation and treatment when required, either on a voluntary or involuntary basis.”

Dean said students can refuse to go to Riverpoint and detox and that choosing one of these options is strictly voluntary.

“If a students says, ‘I ain’t going off to Riverpoint,’ and ‘I ain’t going to detox,’ then we’d say, ‘I’m going to put you under the Marchman Act,’” Dean said. “This leaves students under protective custody of the jail, or if they become disorderly, then they get arrested for disorderly intoxication.”

But in these cases, their only other option would be for a responsible party to pick them up, and if that’s not possible, it’s off to jail.

“We’ve gotta do something with you,” he said.

Student health concerns

Housing typically will not allow an intoxicated student to sleep it off and sober up somewhere on campus, he said.

“Housing, for the most part, doesn’t allow that because they’re fearful of the students’ health,” Dean said. “There are a number of ways you can die from being intoxicated.”

Dean went on to say that he wasn’t sure whether UNF received any monetary benefit for sending business to the rehab and detox facilities.

“Fees are handled between the Office of Health Promotions, [also known as] Healthy Ospreys and the facilities,” Dean said. “And of course this is a matter of housing and student conduct as well, we just facilitate whatever housing chooses to do. See, there’s a civil and a criminal side to all of this.”

Shelly Purser, director of health awareness at the health promotions office, said UNF was in no way reaping any monetary benefit by syncing up with these jail alternatives.

“Not at all, no, no, no,” Purser said. “The whole reason for the transport is for the safety of the students.”

The only relationship UNF has with the given facility’s fees is one of fronting the facilities the fee-money only until students can go into their UNF account and pay their bill.

She explained that the program was first implemented about two years ago, starting with a pilot program, and that she thinks maybe some insurances do cover these rehabilitation and detoxification services.

She thought a better person to talk to about the transports would be Dean.

Neither Purser nor Dean had a copy of the agreements with them nor could they quote it, but both thought it was clearly defined in students’ contracts.