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Two violations could result in suspension

3/16/2004 - Colorado Buffaloes

BROOMFIELD, Colo. -- The University of Colorado is considering changing its campus alcohol policy to suspend students after two alcohol violations instead of three, a school official said Tuesday.

The university also is considering notifying students' parents
after one violation, instead of two, and may ask incoming students
to take an online alcohol awareness course before they get to
Boulder, said Robert Maust, chair of the Standing Committee on
Substance Abuse at CU.

Maust spoke Tuesday to the independent panel investigating
allegations CU's football program used sex and alcohol as
recruiting tools and that seven women were sexually assaulted by
football players or recruits since 1997.

Three of the women filed federal lawsuits saying they were raped
during or immediately after an off-campus party Dec. 7, 2001,
attended by football players and recruits who attended.

No sex assault charges have been filed.

Maust said the proposals to toughen alcohol rules were unrelated
to the allegations but were intended to address a continuing
problem with drinking at CU. "We're not where we expect to be with
the current policies, so it's a question of trying to refine them
to address those matters," he said.

Maust said the proposals are part of an annual review of campus
alcohol policies, and a final decision is expected by the end of
the month.

The commission, whose members were appointed by the CU Board of
Regents, hopes to present its findings and recommendations by April
30.

The recruiting scandal also prompted a state criminal inquiry, a
congressional hearing and an NCAA task force. CU also hired a
special assistant to report to the president and chancellor on the
culture of the athletic department.

The panel voted Tuesday to look into whether it could offer
confidentiality to people who wish to give information. Panel
meetings now are all public.

Gov. Bill Owens has said the Legislature should grant the panel
subpoena power, but House Speaker Lola Spradley said Tuesday she
doesn't understand why the panel needs it.

Spradley, R-Beulah, said she wants to know what records the
panel would keep and who would investigate if the panel is granted
subpoena power and finds evidence of a crime.

The university in the last month has made sweeping changes for
recruits' visits, including an 11 p.m. curfew, more adult
supervision, and moving most visits to the offseason when players
and coaches can give them more attention.

Recruits also are not allowed to go to bars, strip clubs or
off-campus parties.

Maust said he was asked to speak to the whole football team this
year on alcohol policies, instead of only freshman athletes.

He said he suspects alcohol had a profound impact on the
allegations surrounding CU.

"If the question is, is alcohol a factor when people find
themselves in high-risk situations, the answer is almost 100
percent," Maust told reporters.

The number of liquor establishments has grown four times faster
than the Boulder population since 1967, Maust said.

"Ladies nights" sometimes make it possible for women to drink
free almost any night of the week, and beer is frequently cheaper
than bottled water, Maust said.

About 50 to 60 percent of CU students have done some binge
drinking, defined as having five or more drinks at a time within
the past two weeks, and about 36 to 40 percent of CU students did
some binge drinking in high school, he said.