Parental Involvement: For the Best?

February 24, 2010 | NeW Staff

I came across an interesting article in The Washington Post today dealing with parents and college students.  Virginia Tech has recently instituted a policy to inform the parents of students under the age of 21 every time they are caught “drinking, drunk, or in possession of alcohol.”  Virginia Tech is among a growing movement of colleges and universities to notify parents when such behavior occurs.

It’s no surprise that colleges and universities are searching for ways to impose tougher consequences for underage drinking.  It has become a rampant problem and issue facing every college, and alcohol consumption and binge drinking trends have increased dramatically over the last decade.  What I found intriguing was the response from Virginia Tech as to why they have instituted this policy.  According to the vice president of student affairs at Virginia Tech,

“Students are more concerned about their parents being notified than they are of the legal consequences.”

This new policy has proved “shocking” to many Virginia Tech students.  Some wonder if this is a privacy violation.  However, the school is acting in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, which allows the following:

“[It] prevents universities from sharing most student information, but it allows them to contact parents if a child’s health or safety is at risk. In 1998, the act was amended to give colleges and universities permission to notify parents anytime a student younger than 21 had any alcohol or drug violation.”

What do you think?  Is this a matter that parents have a “right” to know about?  Does this encourage healthy living on campuses, knowing the reality of parental consequence?  Will students be less likely to binge drink with the knowledge their parents could find out? Or does this hinder the gaining of independence that one’s time in college allows for?

I’m interested in your thoughts.  When do college students need parental involvement and when do they need “to test out their wings and fly on their own”?
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