Kristen Grace, Senior Staff Writer

There have been a number of changes on Miami University’s campus in the past few years to prevent students from abusing alcohol. The most notable are the revised class schedules, the new two-year housing requirement and the changes to student code of conduct policies that were instated last year.

Some of these changes resulted after a number of suggestions were made by former Miami president James Garland’s alcohol task force that was created over four years ago. After completing a campus-wide survey, suggestions were presented to the university to combat unsafe and illegal drinking habits on canpus and around Miami.

One suggestion made by the task force was the requirement for first- and second-year students to live on campus. Last year was the first year this was a university rule, but Mike O’Neal, director of second year programs, said the task force’s suggestion was not the driving force behind the decision.

“The program is not created specifically to solve our alcohol problem on campus,” O’Neal said.

He said it is intended to provide further guidance for sophomores because most administrative and academic assistance is aimed solely at first-years.

According to Gail Walenga, assistant vice president of Student Affairs, a number of suggestions made by the task force involved providing further alcohol education to students, faculty and staff.

“It would be better if those of us who interact with students were able to identify their risky behavior,” Walenga said.

Currently, outside of specific organizations, there is no alcohol education for the general student population beyond the AlcoholEdu program that is required for every freshman student during their first semester, Walenga said.

She said the potential for continued education to be offered to second-year students on campus may help to deter students from engaging in high-risk drinking.

“I think it’s better to get students to understand that yes, we know you’re going to drink,” Walenga said. “If you’re going to drink, do it safely.”

Another suggestion made by the Garland alcohol task force was intense support for the Armstrong Student Center.

“This would give students another focus,” Walenga said.

She said the university knows there are students on and off campus who look for non-alcoholic events to participate in and the new student center would allow a “focal point for these kinds of activities.”

“The student center would allow for more alternative spaces and more planning of events that are non-alcoholic related,” Walenga said.

Class times were also changed in the 2010 spring semester. As suggested by the task force, the registrar’s office increased the number of classes that include a Friday component and the number of classes that begin by 9:30 a.m., Walenga said.

She said according to a University of Missouri study, students who have Friday classes are discouraged from drinking Thursday and as a result drink less over the course of the entire weekend than they would if they were to begin Thursday night.

Miami senior Kelly Webb doesn’t think this particular change will make a difference.

“I don’t really think it will deter alcohol abuse,” Webb said. “It will probably just result in more skipped Friday classes.”

Other suggested changes that have already been put in place include longer hours at the recreation center, the banning of alcohol delivery on campus that started in July 2006 and the enhanced monitoring of Heritage Commons.

In addition, each year Walenga does an update of the original task force’s suggestions detailing what has been done and what plans are in place for the future.

Walenga said some suggestions will never be carried out because they violate students’ rights, such as adding a notation on a student’s transcript for a non-academic violation.

Others are just not financially plausible. These suggestions include on-campus alcohol and drug recovery housing and a “drunk tank” for students who are released from the hospital for alcohol-related problems but are not ready to be left unsupervised, Walenga said.

Some suggestions, such as further alcohol education programs, have been put on hold until funding is available, Walenga said.

Walenga added that the university is focusing on changes that will affect the largest number of students and have the highest possibility of being successful.

“We’re trying very hard to do things that have evidence and research to support them,” Walenga said.

Grants support new technology park

The Greater Cincinnati Writer’s League (GCWL), a 79-year-old poetry writers group, is sponsoring a poetry contest for area poets.

Anyone over 18 years of age can submit up to three poems for the contest. The entry fee is $3 per poem and there is a 50-line limit for each piece. 

Prizes will be one year free membership to GCWL and $50 for first prize, $25 for second prize and $10 for third prize. 

Writers should submit two typewritten copies of each poem, one with name and address and one without, to GCWL, c/o 10450 Lochcrest Dr., Cincinnati, Ohio 45231. Poems must be received by Nov. 1. For information, poets may call (513) 321-6789. 

The Miami Heritage Technology Park (MHTP) has been awarded $3.5 million in funding to enhance development. The MHTP is supported by the Oxford Community Improvement Corporation.

Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland said the funding would allow Miami University to research in collaboration with other sustainable businesses.

The technology park hopes to attract businesses who will provide internship opportunities for students as well as companies who will boost the Oxford economy.

The MHTP project is a part of the Third Frontier Project, which works to increase economic development in Ohio.

Since planning for the park started in 2005, it has been awarded $135 million in grants and $198 million in private funding.

All Miami University students are welcome to audition for the music ensemble and theatre production, regardless of their major.

Students participating in a music ensemble can earn up to two credit hours. Earning a minor in music performance is also a possibility.

Students are also encouraged to audition for a theatre production. Auditions for the fall productions of Game On, A Song for Coretta and Art will take place on Wednesday and Thursday, August 25 and 26.

Interested students can obtain more information at the open house at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Gates-Abegglen Theatre/Center for Performing Arts. A cookout will follow the open house on the Maple Street plaza of the Center for Performing Arts. Students who are interested in the technical elements of production can sign up from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Aug. 31 in Studio 88 Theatre.

According to Coveney, more privacy and storage has been provided in temporary spaces, making it a much more comfortable living environment.

“It’s a very temporary situation,” said Larry Fink, assistant vice president of housing and auxiliaries.

There are currently 357 more students confirmed for on-campus housing than last year at this same time, Coveney said. Although the number of students in housing is about 100 more than had been forecasted, there was time to plan for the increase, she said.

According to Fink, planning for the summer improvements began over a year ago because they were aware that the size of the first-year class would increase.

“It was careful planning,” Fink said. “It’s all about planning.”

Fink said the massive improvements that were made in order to assure all first-years and sophomores had a permanent room required a lot of work.

“It’s like a giant puzzle,” he said.

Coveney said the housing is generally split about 50 percent for first-year students and 50 percent for upperclassmen. There are currently 15 upper-class residence halls, 13 first-year halls and 7 mixed halls, she said. Students also have the option of living in Heritage Commons.

Coveney said the university wants to be able to offer third- and fourth-year students the ability to select their rooms early and have some priority.

Fink said housing these students requires a formula that is worked through each year, depending on the changing size of the first-year class.

According to Tony Conrad, the first-year adviser in Havighurst Hall, ten additional rooms were created in the basement of the hall over the summer by improving space that was not being utilized in the basement.

According to Fink, the final cost for the improvements made in Havighurst was $275,000 and improvements in Hepburn totaled less than $12,000.

The project at Havighurst was a comprehensive construction project that involved an architect and contractors, Fink said. Consisting of a mix of singles and doubles, the rooms have created an additional permanent corridor.

“They are all nice, regular student rooms,” Coveney said.

In case overflow housing becomes a necessity, three additional spacious rooms were improved in the basement of Havighurst as well. A maximum of four students will live in each room, Fink said.

The new housing in Havighurst, where there is complete privacy, will be used by women. However, since there is not currently a need for the rooms, these temporary living spaces are not being used, Fink said.

Coveney said some rooms that had been used as offices in Wilson Hall were also re-claimed and made into rooms over one summer.

According to Fink, improvements to Hepburn reduced the capacity of the temporary space from 34 to 14 beds. Seven “semi-private” rooms in that space were also created through the placement of large pieces of furniture, he said.

According to Fink, each space includes a desk, locking storage cabinet, individual closet and dresser. Electrical upgrades enable the lighting in each space to be switched on and off individually.

“We’ve really created this very comfortable situation in there,” Fink said.

Each living space includes a bunk bed, two desks, a locking file cabinet and individually controlled lighting, Fink said.

According to Fink, on-floor study lounges that were previously student rooms in several residence halls were converted back into student rooms this year.

The suite that formerly belonged to Pi Beta Phi in Minnich Hall has also been prepared as a living space. Since it was an open space for this year, the room was furnished in case it needs to be used as backup housing for women, Coveney said.

The space can also be used in unexpected situations that may occur or as university break housing for student teachers or international students.

In 2006, 200 single dormitory rooms opened up across campus. According to Coveney, the number of singles offered has not changed since then.

With first-year students, singles are not highly demanded, which leaves them empty in first-year halls, she said. Coveney said although those singles are offered to upperclassmen, they do not always want to live in a hall with first-year students.

According to Fink, the temporary housing at Hepburn can also be used for special circumstances, such as inclement weather for the staff members who are responsible for things like snow removal.