USC cracks down on alcohol and drugs, party video makes waves on web

Photo taken from video of party at off-campus student housing complex
Photo taken from video of party at off-campus student housing complex

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Just two days after the start of classes and the introduction of new alcohol and drug fines at the University of South Carolina, cell phone video showing a wild pool party at an off-campus apartment complex has made waves around the Internet.

The video features hundreds of college-aged men and women in and around a pool at a welcome back party at The Woodlands. The video shows party-goers drinking, participating in pool fights, and chanting "U-S-C" after a young woman exposed herself.

A search of words like "Woodlands" and "USC" on social media turns up mixed reviews from students, some of which site the party as 'insane' while others call it 'disgusting.'

Some who have seen the video say it's not a true representation of the school, including university officials who continue to try and spread the word out about the new fines.

"I think what I've been most proud of is our student's response to what has happened on the web, and our students have said, 'This isn't a reflection of us, we're not proud of this'," said Alisa Liggett, USC's Director of Student Conduct.

Liggett has been working to distribute information on the new alcohol and drug fines since before classes started. She said a task force of faculty and students worked together to come up with the new penalties after deciding that alcohol and drugs were the biggest problems on campus last year.

"Not only have our alcohol offenses increased, but we had a number of student deaths that are accidents related to alcohol," said Liggett.

Liggett says there were more than 600 alcohol-related fines from 2011-2012, but that number was up by more than 15% from the previous school year. She said officials went directly to students to determine what might help deter the illegal activity.

"We had a $50 fine and the feedback from our student body was that's not an issue for us," said Liggett.

So officials tacked on a few hundred more.

"It used to be 50, it's gone up to 250 (dollars for the first offense), a second offense was 100, it's gone to 350 and the third offense is suspension," said Liggett.

There are a number of things that officials say are considered an offense, including alcohol in an underage dorm room and public intoxication at a football game. The latter offense will now cost student's their student football ticket.

"That was the cry of our students was that, 'Wait a second, this guy is getting kicked out for this behavior and that could have been my ticket,' so we want to listen to students and respond to that," said Liggett.

Officials said the changes are not to overtly penalize students, but ultimately come down to student safety, health and success.

"If we get zero dollars from this fine increase, we've accomplished our goal," said Liggett. "We would just like to make sure students don't put themselves in those positions."

It appears the university will already be collecting some money from the new fines as officials say  some students have been written up for alcohol-related offenses in the first week of school. Those students face the penalties at a meeting next week.

University officials said the money collected from the fines will go back into alcohol education on campus. While the measure is in currently in effect, the faculty senate is expected to give its final approval on the new fines sometime in the next few weeks.

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