Inevitably, college students experiment at some point with something they have not tried before, occasionally with illegal or controlled substances such as marijuana or alcohol. Disciplinary processes should exist to aid in educating students about drug use, rather than to simply punish students without regard to changing future behavior. A new program, the Second Chance Alternative – initiated in the beginning of this semester – does just that.Second Chance – created through the efforts of the Dean of Students’ Office, University Health Services and office of Residential Life – eliminates some of the stigma of calling for help for intoxicated students and their friends. By giving students a less punishing alternative to facing disciplinary action, Second Chance may lead to students making better choices in serious situations.Students may fear seeking help for themselves or others while they are under the influence for fear of “getting in trouble.” The knowledge that the first mistake can be removed from a student’s disciplinary record upon the timely completion of a simple assignment will encourage students to be more active in seeking help in appropriate situations.The Second Chance assignments are not overly harsh, either. In response to an alcohol violation, for example, a student may be asked to complete the Web-based AlcoholEDU program, which can provide some valuable information for students who have consumed too much alcohol. Yet the most promising result of the Second Chance program is the low rate of recidivism among those that have chosen to exercise the option. Very few students, upon incurring an infraction and going through the program, suffer a second violation. The Second Chance program offers a real opportunity, both to combat the serious problem of potentially life-threatening intoxications going unreported, and to educate students about dangerous behaviors rather than to simply punish them.

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