College life: You know the do's ... now, here are the don'ts

College life: You know the do's ... now, here are the don'ts

By MICHELLE J. LEE

It's back-to-school season and hundreds of students are starting a new academic year. While there are dozens of college guides and handbooks to help freshmen and other students adjust to their new surroundings and offer advice on how to succeed, here is a list of actions they shouldn't try during their undergraduate time.

Don't go gambling if you are under 21

Atlantic City may be "always turned on" with its bright lights and 11 casinos filled with games of chance. But it is illegal for anyone under 21to step foot on the gambling floor, excluding casino employees, said Dan Heneghan, a spokesman for the Casino Control Commission.

Anyone arrested for underage gambling, a disorderly person's offense, can face a fine between $500 to $1,000 and a six-month driver's license suspension. In addition, the casino that allowed the gambler on the floor could face penalty fines.

The overall number of people under 21 caught gambling has gone down in recent years, Heneghan said. From January to July, 184 people were arrested for underage gambling. Last year, 213 people were arrested, compared with 290 in 2005 and 348 in 2004.

While there are no "peaks and valleys"during the time of year when more underage gamblers are caught, Heneghan said there are more arrests in the summer.

Don't buy and drink alcohol if you are under 21

The public drinking of alcohol is banned at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey in Galloway Township, Atlantic Cape Community College, and Rowan University in Gloucester County, school officials said.

"Obviously, we tell them the law: Under 21 can't drink," Stockton Police Chief Glenn Miller said. "But you do understand that's going to happen. They test the limit." Stockton has about 6,700 undergrads and 40 percent live in dorms.

For safety reasons, all social gatherings at Stockton require registration. If underage students are caught drinking, they can be arrested and sent to Galloway Township court, Miller said, or face sanctions by the Campus Hearing Board ranging from probation to expulsion. Parents also may be notified of the incident, according to the college handbook.

Rowan University has a "dry campus," with the exclusion of one apartment complex for students older than 21, said George Brelsford, the dean of students. Penalties for the first offense include an education program and parental notification. Repeat offenders could face a long-term suspension and possible expulsion, he said. Rowan has about 8,600 students with a third in dorms, a third off campus and the rest commuting.

Alcohol isn't a big problem at Atlantic Cape Community College because there are no dormitories and all students are commuters who usually have other responsibilities, said Carmen Royal, the dean of students. The college has 6,917 students enrolled at the Atlantic City, Mays Landing and Cape May campuses and online. In addition, Atlantic-Cape students tend to be older; the average age is 26.

Students who want to buy booze should beware. In Atlantic City and Cape May, that liquor store clerk could be an undercover cop. Both municipalities are participating in the year-long Cops in Shops, which aims to stop underage drinking.

This summer, 26 cities and townships in southern New Jersey also took part in the program. While the arrest tally for this summer is pending, more than 6,000 people have been arrested since the program's inception in 1996, said Maureen Sczpanski, a spokeswoman for the state Division of Alcohol and Beverage Control.

The state also offers alcohol-education programs from the middle-school to college level, including speakers and outreach, said Jerry Fischer, director of the state Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control. The idea, Fischer said, is to "dry up demand" for alcohol among minors before it becomes a problem.

Don't vandalize or graffiti school property

For the first time, there were seven to eight instances of graffiti sprayed on Stockton's buildings this past spring, Miller said. The cases are still unsolved. Miller said, "the paint was troubling and we hope they give that up."

Brelsford of Rowan University and Royal of Atlantic Cape Community College said that while occasional incidents occur, vandalism isn't an ongoing problem.

Don't bring pets to school

At Rowan, like most schools, pets are forbidden in dormitories. That doesn't prevent some students from sneaking in cats, dogs or other animals to keep them company. Once, a student even managed to keep a pot-bellied pig, Brelsford said.

However, in Brelsford's experience, the situation rarely works out well for either party. At the end of the year, when the dorms are cleaned out, the school staff often find many hamsters, kittens and snakes in glass aquariums abandoned by their owners.

The problem lies within the busy schedules students keep and balancing school with other activities. "If you don't schedule time to sleep, you don't. (And it can be) difficult to schedule time for a pet," Brelsford said. "It ends up being a bad experience for the student and the pet."

Don't drink and drive/ use or sell drugs/ bring weapons to school

At Stockton, Miller said there are three things students would be arrested for without question: illegal drugs, drunken driving and carrying weapons. The number of incidents at Stockton in 2006 are relatively low: 21 arrests for liquor violations and 142 referrals, 22 drug arrests and nine referrals, and two weapons arrests and three referrals. While weapons are very infrequent, Miller said the law covers things such as guns, knives and the bow and arrow.

At Rowan, Brelsford said there is a "zero tolerance" policy, and he advised students to avoid breaking the law.

"Don't think college is all about the party," Brelsford said. "College is about working hard, too."

To e-mail Michelle Lee at The Press:

MLee@pressofac.com

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Date Published: Monday, September 10, 2007 - 01:00
Source URL: Press of Atlantic City