By Talbert Toole
Oxford’s Mississippi Prevention Alliance for Communities and Colleges (MPACC) held its third quarterly meeting Tuesday, July 10 to discuss concerns and prevention methods for alcohol and drug abuse in the LOU area.
MPACC Coordinator Lacy Dodd said the organization’s main objective is to advocate for the prevention of alcohol and drug abuse for those aged 12 to 25.
It is estimated that 110,000 college students between the ages of 18-24 are arrested every year for an alcohol-related violation—such as public drunkenness or driving under the influence—according to AddictionCenter.com.
During the meeting, many attendees—such as police officers and city officials—stated they were in favor of the downtown district ordinance, which, currently, would require businesses that serve alcohol in Oxford to abide by certain restrictions. The ordinance is still in discussion and has not yet been voted on.
One of the restrictions would require businesses to have I.D. scanners to determine if a person is of legal drinking age. The scanner would also screen the legitimacy of the license.
Those attendees favored the ordinance and believe the scanners would cut back underage drinking in Oxford—the exact mission they are trying to promote.
Cindy Semmes, executive assistant for the mayor’s office, said education on underage drinking should be targeted to high schoolers to prevent those students from illegally consuming alcohol when they get to college.
“The alcohol and drugs that go on in the high schools would curl your hair,” she said. “I would be passionate about getting [alcohol] education in our schools.”
Jeremy Roberts, director of operations and event services at Coleman Funeral Home and professor at Ole Miss, vocalized that one of his concerns was available resources for students, especially those who face consequences after being caught using substances.
“When they get caught, [students] don’t know what to do to get out of trouble,” he said. “When students tell me, they are already at the point where they are withdrawing from school.”
The current process for a student, if he or she is arrested or receives a violation related to alcohol or drugs, is to meet with the Office of Conflict Resolution and Student Conduct. Director Tracy Murry said the office reviews the police report, shares the student’s rights with them, and explains who the student should talk to regarding legal representation and court procedures.
“If the student admits responsibility after going over the report, we sanction [the student] for the policy violation,” Murry said.
The next MPACC meeting will be held in December to discuss further prevention methods in the LOU community.