Duke considers notifying parents of illegal drinking

After a change in federal law and a heightened awareness of alcohol abuse, Duke University may decide to start notifying parents if their underage children are caught drinking. A subcommittee of the Alcohol Task Force will examine this issue and the university’s alcohol policy in the coming months.

Just last year, Congress passed changes to the Family Educational Right to Privacy Act of 1974 – a bill that limited the information a university could release without student consent. This summer, though, a policy went into effect that permits colleges to notify parents when students under 21 violate drug and alcohol laws.

Currently, the alcohol policy calls for parental notification when a first-year student violates the rules for the second time. Even then, however, student development officials sometimes make exceptions.

Although the letter of the new law does not mandate parental notification, some students and administrators have suggested that universities may be legally bound to do so.

This approach was used at the University of Delaware as a successful example of parental notification. Parents are notified of every violation, barring mitigating circumstances.

UD also has a “three strikes and you’re out” policy that in the most extreme cases suspends students for a year.

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