By JOHN WYATT – NEWS SECTION EDITOR
The concept of citations is one that each Centre student learns about during orientation week.
The College, typically through the Department of Public Safety (DPS), issues citations as a means to deter students from any behavior that might break college policy. Different citations come with different fees, depending upon what policy they broke.
There is confusion among students surrounding where money goes to, and how the College deteremines the monetary amounts behind various citations.
“All fines collected go back to the College’s general fund [officially an account called the Disciplinary Funds]. If vandalism occurs, for example, it’s the general fund that pays for the repairs. If a student is found responsible for vandalism, they pay for the damage and any associated fines/rewards (again, as set by the Student Government Association (SGA) and as described in the Student Handbook),” Vice President and Dean of Student Life (SLO) Randy Hays said.
“This money is used for general operations for the college as one of several miscellaneous acounts that all go towards funding the ‘bottom line.’ So far this semester, the Disciplinary Funds account totals $1,950, with fines ranging from $25 to $200,” Assistant Controller in the Finance Office Scott Ownes said.
“None of that money comes back to DPS,” Department of Public Safety Officer Rubin Mosley said.
While the College set the monetary amounts for fines several years ago, occasional updates occur under the collaboration of Hays, the SLO, DPS, SGA, and/or Student Judiciary.
Usually, the College revists monetary amounts for citations if the fines don’t show any signs of detering students.
“If after a while we determine the fine has no impact, especially if it’s a major saftey issue and students are simply willing to pay the fine instead of complying with policy, then we will go and sit down with Student Life and SGA and come up with a new solution, in some cases that means raising the fine,” Director of Department of Public Safety Gary Bugg said.
One example Bugg gave of raising a fine occurred several years ago, before the current Campus Center was built.
“We had a big problem of students sneaking on to the roofs of buildings or breaking into buildings after hours. There were a lot of students that would sneak up on to the roof of the old Cowan building, and in some cases even riding their bicycles around,” Bugg said. “So we approached SGA and asked they raise the fine to $500 [the current fine today] to provide a major deterent. We saw a dramatic decline in the number of citations for that issue.”
A more recent example is when SGA and the SLO were discussing the citation policy for dorm parties.
“That is a recent example of where we [DPS] had a lot of input in,” Bugg said. “We did a lot of work around the old policy to make it fair to everyone involved, but to also put some pressure and responsibility on the hosts to deter them in the future. We try to remain concious of what’ fair to the student, but also to balance what is in the best interest of public saftey as well.”
While DPS has input on citations and fines, ultimately all changes must go through SGA and the SLO.
The majority of fines (“in sheer number,” according to Bugg) typically come from original containers of alcoholic beverages.
“Typically there are three to four citations per party night,” Mosley said. “With the new citation policy for dorm parties, that one has become the largest in terms of money being paid,” Bugg said.
The citation system works as a deterrent against certain behaviors, but it is not the only thing that is used by the college, especially when it comes to issues involving alcohol.
The College utilizes alcohol education programs, alcohol assessments with a counselor, meetings with a professional staff member, and the occasional call home to parents.
“A few years ago, we worked with SGA on defining alcohol citations for students and what happens to them after they’ve been cited, and through that discussion we came up with the Good Samaritan and Medical Amnesty Policy,” Bugg said. “In that case, the fine was actually decreased, or completely negated, since under the Medical Amnesty policy you don’t receive any fine. That’s just one way where we try to find solutions besides raising fines to deter students.”
These conversations are an ongoing process on the part of SGA, the SLO, and DPS in an effort to constantly assess the effectiveness of various fines and citations.
“Our biggest concern as of right now is the abuse of alcohol, so we are always talking about ways to combat that,” Bugg said. “At one point we talked about citing not only hosts for room parties, but any individuals in the rooms as well. But we found out that that created more issues than it solved: Officers had trouble controlling traffic in and out of the room, tensions would grow as students were asked to wait, and sometimes we even had students jumping out of windows to avoid getting cited. Obviously, we decided to scrap that plan.”
“I hope that the citation system provides a strong deterrent – in the sense that I hope folks have better things to spend $50 on than the privilege of walking around with an open can of beer (which I might add I can’t do as a 50-year old man in the town of Danville without risking being arrested.),” Hays said. “From what I hear from other Deans at similar schools, we have fewer problems with vandalism/poor behavior at Centre than most. That said, one problem is one too many—‘cause we’re better than that.”