Good to know
Office of Student Conduct: Regent Administrative Center Room 206; 303-492-5550; colorado.edu/studentaffairs/studentconduct/
CU Police Department: 1050 Regent Dr.; 303-492-6666; police.colorado.edu/
Boulder Municipal Court guide to MIP: https://bouldercolorado.gov/municipal-court/minor-in-possession-2
Off-Campus Housing Party Registration: Register your party by noon on Friday by providing a student ID, address and two contact phone numbers. More information: http://ocss.colorado.edu/content/party-registration-program-0
Behave yourselves, Buffs! The Code of Conduct follows students off-campus and throughout their academic careers at CU. Students who are arrested for off-campus offenses are still eligible for disciplinary actions through the Office of Student Conduct.
The University of Colorado-Boulder has worked hard to shed its “party school” reputation, and students who violate rules on drugs and alcohol can face consequences on-campus and off.
At the same time, university law enforcement is trying to take a balanced approach to enforcement, referring more cases to the Office of Student Conduct and fewer cases to the Boulder Municipal Court.
CU, once a top party school according to The Princeton Review, hasn’t been on that list for five years. The school is still No. 4 on the “Reefer Madness” list, but in April, administrators left the campus open on 4/20 for the first time in three years as the pot celebration had largely moved to Denver.
“We’re certainly not fans of being on those lists,” CU spokesman Ryan Huff said back in April. “They’re unscientific, and they don’t reflect the vast majority of our student body, who are hard-working students who are academically successful and who are doing great research here.”
Despite Amendment 64, which legalized marijuana for recreational use for people ages 21 and over in Colorado, students cannot possess or use marijuana on campus. Students who have medical marijuana cards can request exemptions.
The federal Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act requires institutions that receive federal funds to take efforts to fight illegal drugs, and marijuana remains illegal under federal law.
Though students 21 and older will no longer receive a criminal citation or have to appear before a Colorado court if caught possessing less than an ounce of marijuana on campus, they could still face Office of Student Conduct discipline.
In fact, the university has been arresting fewer students for low-level drug and alcohol offenses and making more use of the Office of Student Conduct in recent years. Arrests for drug and alcohol violations declined 46 percent between 2013 and 2014, the most recent year for which data is available under the Clery Act, continuing a trend that started in 2011.
Referrals to the Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution for alcohol increased 1.4 percent between 2013 and 2014 and increased roughly 30 percent for drug violations in the same time period.
CU police spokesman Scott Pribble said there aren’t clear rules about which cases result in a summons and which cases go to student conduct, but the department wants to give students the message that drug and alcohol violations are serious while providing an opportunity to change their behavior outside a court setting.
“We don’t necessarily want to criminalize the act,” he said. “Instead of going through the court system, if it’s not too egregious, we might put it through student conduct. We do want you to understand that what you’re doing is wrong.”
Students facing a violation of the Student Code of Conduct will receive a hearing wherein a university conduct officer reviews the facts and decides whether the student should be held responsible. Unlike the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard in criminal courts, Student Conduct proceedings use a less-stringent burden of proof.
Each case is decided on its merits, and the penalties can include suspension and expulsion.
However, the Office of Student Conduct also connects students who are struggling with resources to do better.
“The first time they go through the process, we see it as an opportunity to really ask about their experience as a student, how they’re doing, provide resources for them, get them connected to a tutor if they need it, drug and alcohol resources if they need it,” Jessica Doty, director of the student conduct office, told the Daily Camera in October.
The Office of Off-Campus Housing also provides a party registration system. Students who register their events get a warning call from dispatch when the police receive a noise complaint and have 20 minutes to shut down the party and avoid an interaction with police.
Pribble said students who register their parties are being good neighbors and reducing the likelihood of even minor criminal charges like a nuisance party ticket.
Students under 21 who are cited for minor in possession have to appear in Boulder Municipal Court. Students can be cited if they are caught holding a drink or if an officer has other evidence they have been drinking.
For a first offense, students can expect to pay a $50 court fee and attend alcohol classes at their own expense.
Despite policies and laws combating substance use, CU still wants students to seek help if a party situation goes south. Due to a Good Samaritan provision in the Code of Conduct, underage students trying to help a friend suffering the ill effects of alcohol won’t be subject to university disciplinary proceedings.
Erica Meltzer: twitter.com/meltzere. Sarah Kuta contributed to this report.