Shepherdstown wants to cut down on partying

March 11, 1998|By CLYDE FORD

Shepherdstown wants to cut down on partying

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - Underage drinking is a college tradition that Shepherdstown officials want to end.

On Tuesday, after five months of study and planning, Shepherdstown police and the Free Our Citizens of Unhealthy Substances Coalition unveiled their plans for the Shepherdstown Underage Drinking Project.

The effort will range from "party patrols," where police officers plan to crash parties to search for underage drinkers, to volunteers passing out brochures about the health risks of alcohol, officials said.

Shepherd College students interviewed after Tuesday's announcement said they like the idea of more controls.

"I think it's a big problem," said Heather Dillow, 21, a senior at Shepherd. "The freshmen come in and it's the first time away from home and their parents. They think there's no rules or anything and they think they can do anything they want."


Dillow said she does not drink alcohol, but she's in the minority at the college, according to a survey of 64 Shepherd students conducted for the project.

The study showed 94 percent of the students surveyed had tried alcohol.

Nineteen percent of the students drink at least twice a week, while 13 percent of the students drink once a week, according to the survey.

Six percent of the students surveyed said they first tried alcohol in the fourth grade or earlier.

Most students, including those under the legal age of 21, said they found it easy to obtain alcohol. Fifty-three percent said it was very easy, while 41 percent said it was fairly easy. Only 3 percent said it was fairly difficult to obtain alcohol.

As part of the project, agents from the West Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Administration will hold inspections to make sure alcohol is not being sold to those under 21.

Paul Gealy, community development specialist for the coalition, said the Shepherdstown Business Association will hold seminars on how to spot fake identification cards.

The FOCUS Coalition helped the Shepherdstown Police Department obtain a $149,600 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.

Gealy said surveys of Shepherdstown residents show that underage drinking is considered one of the worst problems in the community.

Arnold said that alcohol plays a role in most police calls at night, including vandalism, disorderly behavior and assaults.

Sarah York, 19, a freshman at Shepherd, said Thursday nights are big party nights on campus.

"Everybody goes home on Fridays, so they party on Thursdays," York said.

York said she is not one of those at the parties drinking.

"Not yet. I'm waiting until I'm older and wiser," she said. "Really, I just don't like the taste of it."

The Herald-Mail Articles