Transportation safety issue for students who drink
By Susan Walley
Senior Staff Writer
Robert Cooper, director of Student Life, is looking into a way to ensure students return home safely after events that allow alcohol.
Cooper became concerned about students drinking at the homecoming semiformal – the only university event aside from tailgating where drinking is permitted – safely returning home.
“I’m concerned that when we allow alcohol, we should offer students a ride home,” Cooper said.
Sen. Hannah Simpson, who chairs the SGA’s student issues committee, suggested the idea of a drunk bus, a program she knew to exist at ECU.
The university would not be legally liable if an accident were to occur due to a student drinking during the semiformal or tailgating.
“The university has a liability where it has a responsibility that it fails to carry out,” said University Attorney Donna Payne.
The university does not sell the alcohol at these events, so it is not liable for the intoxication levels of students.
DRAM laws she explained, which hold commercial establishments liable for serving alcohol to visibly intoxicated costumers, are not applicable to the university in this situation.
The university does reserve the right to prohibit students from bringing alcohol into the semiformal if it appears they have consumed alcohol prior to the dance.
“The fact that the university probably doesn’t have a legal liability doesn’t mean they don’t care about the students,” Payne said.
“If a student left the semiformal and got into an accident, I would feel liable,” said Cooper, who explained that his concerns have risen after leaving events at 1 or 2 a.m. and seeing “students staggering across the street.”
Safe ways home
“It would be in the students’ interest to know they had a safe way home,” Cooper said.
The Department of Police and Public Safety offers an escort service, but Cooper explained that a bus could be more efficient when dealing with safely returning a large number of students home after university events.
There are many issues which must be addressed concerning starting the program.
The campus already has a shuttle bus, Cooper explained, but was unsure whether or not that could be used for this purpose.
The university would have to provide funding for the program and find a driver.
The program that exists at ECU is a part of a transit system operating on the campus with 23 routes, five of which operate until at least 3:30 a.m.