Forty-Niners and Drinking: Safety and Consequences

While not every student at Tech is legally allowed to drink, many underage individuals do so anyway in honor of this traditional celebration. There are some important bits of information for all students to keep in mind when partying with their friends in regards to safety, policies, and laws surrounding alcohol.

An important aspect of drinking responsibly is not drinking in excess and monitoring those with whom you are drinking for any dangerous signs. While many individuals might not want to stop drinking for fear of missing out on the merriment, it is a good idea to stop a friend or fellow partier if he or she is exhibiting any of the following: unconsciousness (especially when accompanied by shallow breathing), unresponsiveness, and excessive and violent vomiting. If someone is showing any of these signs, it might be a good idea to contact emergency personnel.

“I know this is something that some don’t want to hear, but if you’re truly concerned, call an ambulance and let a professional assess the situation,” said Mitch Tappen, director of Residence Life. For on-campus residents, finding an RA is a first step to getting a person help. For others, calling 9-1-1 might seem like an extreme step, but it might be a good option.

“It’s better to be safe than dead,” added Tappen.

If a person is unconscious, rolling him or her on to her side is a safe way to ensure that if he or she involuntarily vomits, it will not go back in the body and choke him or her, according to Tappen. It is important for students to realize that even people who are used to drinking might do so in excess and need help. For some students, though, there are other risks to drink besides ones regarding their health.

During 49ers, every RA on campus will be present and on-call. Tappen and ResLife Coordinator, Tom Kaus will also be making rounds through campus with Campus Police. Although Tappen said they are not making it a point to bust people, he said they will be trying to gauge the feel on campus.

Any students who are caught illegally drinking on campus will potentially face varying consequences. According to the NMT Student Handbook, punishment will be determined by the Dean of Students, who is currently Melissa Jaramillo. The Handbook also outlines some expectations, policies, and law regarding alcohol.

“Although Tech does not have as serious a situation as some colleges, alcohol abuse occurs and students need to understand the health risks,” according to the Handbook.

The handbook also states that “As members of the Institute community, students are expected to comply with and abide by the policies and guidelines as stated below, as well as the laws of the State of New Mexico.”

While, as an institution, Tech discourages all students from drinking, the University does recognize that students who have attained the legal drinking age (do have a right to consume alcoholic beverages.

Even so, NMT prohibits the Student Activities Boards, the student entity that plans 49ers, from serving alcohol during their events. Along the same line, all Tech-sponsored student activities are alcohol-free. For some students, though, alcoholic drinking is often done in their dorm rooms or other private residences.

As mentioned before, Tech students who are 21 years of age or older may consume alcohol on campus. They may only do so, however, in their private residence hall rooms. New Mexico law specifically prohibits open containers in public, which includes outside residence hall rooms or in public rooms of the residence halls, parking lots, lounges, patios, and other open spaces on campus.

In addition to drinking being limited to certain location, kegs are also prohibited everywhere on campus. Along with the policies of Tech, drinking can be a legal matter.

Not only is it illegal to drink alcohol while underage, it is also illegal to serve or provide alcohol to someone who is underage. Doing so is a fourth-degree felony. Serving alcohol to intoxicated individuals is also, meaning they have a Blood-Alcohol Level of .08 percent or above, is also illegal.