COLUMBIA, MO (KTVI) - Some Mizzou students say a campus policy is putting young women at risk of rape. Campus officials defend their practice of ticketing underage drinkers.
At Mizzou, college women reported five sexual assaults this fall. Some students said that`s a low number because of other incidents they claim have gone unreported. They question a method of going after minors for drinking.
One student said, 'I think it`s scaring them to leave places and that could make them get drunker and do something they don`t want to do.'
Carly Sands added, 'Especially lately, there have been a lot more policeman on campus, which you would think would be a good thing, but I think their good intentions are being executed poorly.'
The students say their younger classmates will often sleep over in a strange location. Sands explained that she`s known of people who would not return to their dorms 'because policeman would wait in the circle drive.' She said some college men also fear walking a girl back to a dorm.
Campus Police Capt. Brian Weimer said, 'There has never been a checkpoint set outside of a residence hall checking people like that. Now that`s not to say that an officer hadn`t perhaps came across a student that was possibly intoxicated...and performing a breath test on that individual.'
Weimer says enforcement is crucial to stop rapes. He said, 'The majority of the situations that we see on campus is the lack of consent, many times due to intoxication.' He added, 'We have reports that our officers are coming across individuals that are passed out in the grass.'
Mizzou Student Life Assoc. Director Kim Dude says it`s a myth that campus police set up MIP checkpoints. She said, 'They`re not going to waste their time on somebody who`s just walking down the street, but it`s a good use of their time to stop somebody who`s stumbling down the street.'
You don`t have to have a beer in your hand to get an MIP. If police detect you`ve been drinking, you can get a ticket. One officer explained that your body is a container.
Attorney Bill Ellis added, 'I find it`s more shocking to parents than it is to students. Students by in large are pretty well aware of all the ways you can get an MIP. If they haven`t had one, they certainly know someone who has.'
Fox 2 requested numbers of liquor law violations by minors. For the first five weeks of classes, Mizzou police reported 118. Columbia PD reported 28.
Student Sands added, 'I know just an MIP itself is about a thousand dollars. I can`t imagine what it is, I`ve never received one thank gosh, but getting a lawyer, I can`t imagine what the cost of that would be.'
Attorney Ellis said the lawyer fee will likely be under $500, depending on the case. He added the law does allow a penalty as high as $1,000, though he says a Judge usually sets it at about one -quarter that. Ellis said, 'Given the range in punishment all the way up to a thousand dollars, again I don`t see a fine that high even though theoretically it could be imposed. So they`re certainly not grabbing as much as they could under the law.'
It should be noted that those MIPs written by campus police, typically go into City coffers. The University doesn`t make money on those tickets.
Kim Dude of Campus Life added, 'I`m very grateful that it`s the police that came upon (someone who`s intoxicated) and not another student who might in fact take advantage of them.'
A student, who did not want to be identified added, 'These guys can have very different motives that you don`t know about as a girl. Girls just want to hang out and have a good time and because of that, their mindset of being safe kind of slips away.'
Dude, of Campus Life, urges students to have one sober person for every five people that go out, so that designated person can watch out for others who may be targeted by a sexual predator. There may also be other dangers, in which it`s important to have a responsible bystander, someone sober, who can get friends out of danger. It`s also important to remember that the person who decides to drink a lot probably realizes they may say crazy things or fall down, but they didn`t decide to get intoxicated in order to get raped.
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