Josie Thrasher, a mathematics education major from Roanoke, Alabama, who was a senior in the spring, asked her roommate to remove alcohol from the room they shared in Hamil Hall.
Both were under the legal drinking age of 21.
“I gave her a week, and a week later, it was still there,” Thrasher said. “I went to our RA and let her handle it.”
Thrasher said the rules regarding possession and use of alcohol, tobacco and drugs on campus and in the dorms are clearly explained at the beginning of the year.
“You have to be 21 or over to have alcohol in your room, but your roommate also needs to be 21 or over,” said Grishma Rimal, a Hamil Hall resident assistant from Kathmandu, Nepal, who is double majoring in broadcast journalism and political science and was a junior in the spring.
“If you’re in a building like Trojan Village and you’re 21 but your suitemates are not 21, you cannot have it out in the public area. You cannot have it in the fridge even.”
She added, “Of course, in the Newman Center and the wellness houses, Paden and Hillcrest, there is no alcohol allowed absolutely, regardless of your age.”
According to Rimal, if you are underage and found with alcohol, an incident report will be filed, you will be fined $50 and you will be referred to Herbert Reeves, dean of student services.
“There’s no shame in waiting it out, waiting until you are old enough to drink,” said George Holmes, a graphic design major from Hurtsboro, Alabama, who was a junior in the spring. “There’s nothing wrong with having a good time, but don’t rely on it.”
Rimal said that alcohol issues are more frequent in the fall semester, and there are fewer as the year goes on.
“We don’t really get involved with alcohol,” said John McCall, university police chief. “The RAs take that, and they do an internal report.”
McCall said the university police will get involved if alcohol is being provided to people underage and when drugs are involved.
According to McCall, quantity decides how the possession of smaller quantities of drugs may be handled in house, while possession of larger quantities is likely to lead to prosecution.
“If we do respond to drug issues on campus, 99 times out of 100 it’s marijuana. We very, very rarely run into any other drug on campus. We have seen some ecstasy and some stuff like that.”
According to McCall, there are drug incidents once or twice a month.
He said the university police run a dog search of all campus facilities, usually once or twice a year.
“This year, it was slim pickings for the dogs,” McCall said. “We only had one room where we found anything. Either the dogs were having a bad day or it was a really good day for Troy, and I like to say it was a really good day for Troy.”
Students living on campus sign a contract that gives the university police permission to search for anything illegal “at any point if they feel that is necessary,” McCall said.
He said that students concerned about the presence of illegal substances in the dorms should contact their RAs first.
Rimal said she has encountered more issues with the tobacco ban in effect since August 2012.
“If we see somebody smoking or get a report of somebody smoking, we go over and tell them, ‘Don’t do that,” McCall said. “We’re not writing citations or making people pay fines or anything right now. If we have repeat offenders, then we turn them in for disciplinary action through the student services department.”
According to Rimal, enough people are smoking on campus to give new residents the wrong impression.
“Probably Fraternity Row is our worst area for smoking violators,” McCall said.
“I think it’s really difficult to enforce the tobacco ban,” Thrasher said. “Tobacco products are really easy to get, and you can get them legally at 19, so most people on campus can probably buy them.
Holmes said: “I don’t see it being enforced a lot, but at the same time, I don’t see people smoking a lot, either. I think smoking will kind of die out on its own.”
Rimal said new fads have caused some problems with enforcement.
“Recently we’ve seen an increasing number of residents, who tend to smoke regular cigarettes as well, using e-cigarettes and vapes, and just because it’s a new thing, they think it’s OK to smoke it inside the building, which it’s not. But since it’s new, we hadn’t really reinforced that at the beginning of the semester because we hadn’t really seen anyone doing it.”
McCall said the RAs do a good job of handling these situations, but if students don’t feel comfortable bringing an issue like this to an RA, they should contact the university police.
“My advice to freshmen is to be responsible,” Thrasher said. “If you know you’re not supposed to do it or have it, don’t do it. Even if it’s legal for you, be smart.”