By Daron Casey ’12
As it is depicted on television and in movies, everyone’s favorite thing about college may be the drinking and partying. However what they often fail to portray are the consequences for these actions, especially for student-athletes.
At the beginning of each season, every athlete endures a conference to discuss the implication of drinking alcohol. As written in the PLU student-athlete handbook, “regardless of age, a student –athlete will be held accountable for alcohol related policy violations in which he/she is involved. In such cases, the student-athlete is subject to University, Athletic Department, and/or team disciplinary actions.” These team disciplinary actions vary from sport to sport, some more severe than others.
Each program has its own way of dealing with violations of the PLU alcohol policy.
The football team follows the student handbook as written. First time offenders are required to meet with the Coach and Athletic Director where their punishment will be established in addition to the PLU conduct policy (a $45 fine, a 2-3 page essay, and a substance abuse assessment). Second time violators are suspended from the team for a minimum of 10% of their competitions, and cannot dress in uniform at the suspended event. The student will then be suspended for the rest of the season if they are caught a third time.
The men’s swim team follows these criteria with a bit more leniency for those of age.
“If you’re caught with alcohol and you’re over 21 then it is more or less a slap on the wrist,” a senior swimmer said. “If someone underage is caught and written up for alcohol there would be a suspension for an undecided amount of time, depending on the severity. [Coach Sellman’s] biggest thing is to not have underage drinking.”
A common spin on the policy is what’s called a ‘dry season.’ Several teams including, volleyball and soccer have incorporated this method. This is a way of holding each student accountable for themselves and their teammate’s choices. It is a zero tolerance policy that keeps the athletes sober within the confines of the season, removing such strict punishments when the season has finished.
For the softball team, things have begun to loosen up in recent years.
“My freshman year (’09-’10) we had a completely dry season,” junior Ally VanSchoorl said. “Sophomore year we had a dry season for those under 21. Those who were over 21 had the 48 hour rule before game days and it was limited to 1 or 2 drinks.”
The 48 hour rule requires that students of age not have any drinks two days before a game. The softball coach would punish those guilty of this policy by subjecting them to extra physical conditioning.
One of PLU’s most successful teams this season has been the men’s soccer team, who just participated in the NCAA regional tournament. This team’s success may be partly attributed to their unique spin on the student-athlete drinking policy. Senior and star player Surafel Wodajo helps maintain a player sanctioned dry season.
“It’s more the players that are in charge of the dry season but we do have the backing of the coach,” Wadajo said. “We don’t usually have a big issue with drinking since everyone is committed to the common goal of winning the championship. Doing a dry season is not as difficult as it sounds. Players are not discouraged from going out and having fun, we just ask they do not drink.”
As for reprimanding those who do not obey, the punishments for the soccer team are much more severe than others.
Wadajo explained that “if someone is caught they are suspended the first time and kicked off of the team if it happens again. We had one player get in trouble this year and the player came up with a two game suspension in which the player that was guilty accepted his punishment.”
Each team has its own way of dealing with the ever popular partier. College and drinking will maintain synonymous in our culture. It is up to the athletes to avoid offended their team’s unique policy and the consequences thereof.