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Students and Alcohol

High-risk drinking among college students is a serious national problem. Each year, too many college students die or are seriously injured as the result of alcohol use. RIT believes learning best occurs when healthy and responsible behavior is supported; students make their own choices and are responsible for their behavior, but RIT is here to educate and encourage students make healthy decisions.

RIT cannot educate about and prevent against alcohol and drug abuse alone. We need the involvement and the support of parents. Please talk with your student about your expectations regarding drug and alcohol use. Although your student is not likely to bring up the topic, he or she will listen if you talk. You may not even get a response, but research shows that students pay attention when their parents talk about alcohol and drugs. It is surprising how often we hear "My parents think..." or "My parents say..." when students are talking with each other or with staff about these issues.

Even if you believe your son or daughter does not drink or does not drink to excess, it is important that you talk about alcohol and drugs. Your student may make choices you don't expect, or may encounter drinking and drug use through their classmates and friends. At RIT, alcohol is not allowed in the residence halls, Global Village, or in Greek housing, regardless of student age. Alcohol possession and consumption, however, is allowed in University apartments when the student is at least 21 years of age, as well as in two licensed bars on campus.

Good Samaritan Protocol

In order to avoid the dangerous and possibly fatal effects of alcohol poisoning or overdosing from other drugs, students are encouraged to contact Public Safety, RIT Ambulance, the Center for Residence Life staff, or some other person able to assist or to get assistance if they notice an individual who has passed out or shows other signs of serious effects from alcohol or drug consumption. The Good Samaritan Protocol protects the caller, the person in need of assistance, and any witnesses involved from receiving disciplinary sanction. Keeping RIT's value in student health and safety in mind, this protocol is designed to provide education rather than discipline when a student voluntarily contacts University personnel seeking medical assistance related to alcohol or other drugs. You can read more about the Good Samaritan Protocol in the Alcohol and Other Drugs section of University policies.

Conversation Starting Tips

Ask your student questions such as:

  • How will you decide whether or not to drink at college?
  • What reasons or excuses can you give your peers if you don't want to drink?
  • What will you do if you find yourself at a party with only alcohol to drink?
  • What will you do if your roommate only wants to drink and party?
  • What will you do if your roommate or a neighbor passes out from drinking too much?
  • How will you get home if the person you rode with is too drunk to drive?

Talk to your student about your expectations about their choices regarding:

  • Drinking and drug use
  • Attending class
  • Drinking and driving
  • Financial responsibility
  • The balance between studying and socializing 

Talk to your student about your own experiences with alcohol, both positive and negative. Do not, however, idealize any over-indulgences from your own youth. Your student may assume you are granting approval for dangerous levels of consumption.

Encourage your student to assert her or his right to a safe and livable environment. Students who do not drink are affected by those who do. Explain that your student can confront offensive behavior either directly by talking to the other student or indirectly by notifying residence hall staff members.

Stay Involved With Your Student

Since the first six weeks of college are a very high-risk time for first-year students, it is helpful if you call, write, or send email frequently and offer your support.

You may want to ask questions such as:

  • How are you doing?
  • Do you like your classes?
  • What is the party scene like?

If your student indicates that "everyone drinks," or if you gather that he or she is drinking, pursue the issue. Reinforce your academic and social expectations. You can ask:

  • What kind of activities other than drinking are available on or off campus?
  • Are you comfortable with your behavior since you started college?
  • How are you getting along with your roommate?
  • Are you feeling overwhelmed?
  • What do you do to relieve stress?
  • What can we do to help?

Facts to Remember

In New York, the legal age for purchasing and consuming alcohol is 21.
Underage alcohol consumption and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is against the law. In New York, the penalties for an alcohol or drug-related driving violation include the loss of a driver license, fines, and possible jail term. A first offense can result in a maximum fine of up to $1,000, up one year in jail, and license revocation for at least six months. 

It is not true that everyone drinks in college.
While research may show that high numbers of college students consume alcohol, this does not mean that all do, or that students who do drink are binge drinking. At any college campus, there is a wide variety of students, as well as a variety of drinking behaviors and non-drinking activities that fit the interests of all students. 

The effects of alcohol linger long after the party.
Students who drink to excess are more likely to have low grades, miss classes, to be involved in an accident, and to be physically or sexually assaulted than students who do not drink.