The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

MUSG focuses on substance abuse at weekly meeting

Last Thursday’s Marquette University Student Government meeting focused on the issue of collegiate substance abuse. The Senate featured guest speakers Chris Ladwig, an assistant district attorney in Milwaukee, and Erin Lazzar, the assistant dean of students at Marquette, to lead the presentation.

Ladwig said his current role at Marquette is to work with the university in combating the issue of underage drinking, as well as the nuisance involved in such behavior.

“We’ve had two deaths with people driving drunk from Marquette within the past year and a half,” Ladwig said.

Ladwig and Lazzar said that besides the legal consequences, underage drinking is an issue of growing concern, especially regarding campus safety.

In August 2010, more than 72 individuals called for Department of Public Safety assistance regarding dangerous intoxication, according to DPS reports.

“When that happens, it is a dangerous thing,” Ladwig said. “So many DPS officers are tied up dealing with that (intoxicated students), they aren’t available to patrol for your safety.”

Ladwig presented a slideshow listing the high economic costs of engaging in the illegal behavior.

He said a first-time drinking ticket issued by the Milwaukee Police Department can be a fine of up to $695, and purchasing alcohol for others who are underage can result in a fine between $375 to $1,000.

Fines issued for upperclassmen hosting house parties where underage students are present range from $360 to $3,000, according to Ladwig’s presentation.

He said other consequences of underage drinking include suspended licenses (usually for an entire year), the availability of public records, hardships obtaining loans and substantially higher insurance rates for the offender.

Ladwig said the consequences of engaging in drug use mimics those of underage drinking, except drug use is automatically considered a felony meaning up to or more than a year in incarceration.

“Most crimes related to drug use will be on your record up to 30 years,” Ladwig said. “It may be unfair but that is the law in Wisconsin.”

Ladwig also spoke of drug houses on campus and how operating one is a felony, as it involves sale and distribution. He also said that the use of any drug (including marijuana) can result in nine months in jail.

Although the problem appears widespread, Ladwig said collaboration with Marquette to combat the issue of substance abuse on campus has been much more beneficial than at other institutions such as University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Even so, Lazzar said she would like to see more students step up to provide solutions for a safer campus environment, but understands outlying factors contribute to the availability and persistence of consumption on campus.

“Within a few miles of Marquette’s radius, I found over 300 places with liquor licenses,” Lazzar said. “It is very easy to get a liquor license in the state of Wisconsin and very hard to get one taken away.”

Ladwig said the presence of alcohol in Wisconsin is culturally embedded and therefore, not easily removable.

Following the presentation, president Joey Ciccone, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences said MUSG is teaming up with the university to “undergo a big diversity initiative.”

Ciccone said MUSG will host a series of roundtable discussions focusing on the issues of race, gender and sexual orientation. The discussions are intended to seek the input of all student voices, particularly those whose minorities seem underrepresented on campus.

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