Parents to Learn About Underage Drinking Offenses at Auburn

July 18, 2008

AUBURN, Ala. (WXTX) - The Lee County coroners office confirmed Friday that 20-year old Auburn University student Wesley Scott Bilbo, killed in a car accident Wednesday, had been drinking.  The news comes on the eve of a new alcohol policy set to take effect this fall.

Beginning August 18th, any student under 21 caught with alcohol or driving under the influence will have thier parents notified.  The university hopes this new policy will prevent deaths like the one that happened this week. However, some students feel it's an invastion of their privacy.

"It'll be another excuse for their parents to say no cause their parents might find out," Sarah Cowart, an student's parent said. Auburn University is taking a new approach to underage drinking.

"The notifications would come from police reports for DUIs, or arrests for minor possession if there was a fight or something like that where alcohol was involved," Jim Hardin, a spokesman for the Dean of Students office said.

It's a policy that won over parents on campus Friday.  Sarah Cowart will sent five children to Auburn as of this fall.  "Yes I had a problem with my second one [child]," Cowart said.  "And we ran him down the street, I cannot tell you how many times. He is 26 years old now and he sends us the nicest thank yous," Cowart added.

"Usually if someone is involved in an alcohol incident, its usually not a one time offense," Hardin said. Hardin believes there are a series of things that lead to risky behavior.

One student who wishes to remain anonymous remembers her alcohol offense when she was underage at the University of Missouri.  "When I had an incident, they [parents] weren't contacted and I'm really glad they weren't," the student said.  "Obviously if your in college,you need to learn to take responsibility," the student added.

Regardless of opinion, underage drinking will have new consequences this fall.  "If I'm paying for stuff then they shouldn't know. I took care of it and it probably wasn't until after the fact that I went to them with it".

The university says it has about 150 alcohol violations each year, a number they hope will be reduced after the policy is implemented.