Xavier University students want 'better' rules regarding penalties for underage drinking

Group says deaths could be avoided

CINCINNATI -- In August of 2012, Norm and Dawn Finbloom of Indiana received the nightmare call every parent fears: Their son was dying.

Brett Finbloom, 18, was hospitalized after police found him intoxicated and without a pulse at a party in Carmel. The University of Oklahoma student would later die from alcohol poisoning.

Two years later, students at Xavier University and Brett’s family are urging schools to implement "better" rules for emergencies related to alcohol poisoning to keep students safe.

"We don't want to see this happen to anybody else," Norm Finbloom said.

The Finblooms gathered with students at Xavier’s Gallagher Student Center Tuesday evening to discuss a potential school policy that would allow students drinking under the legal age to avoid punishment in an emergency. The policy would let them off the hook if they sought help during a possible case of alcohol-related illness.

When Brett was dying, Norm said the students he was with did not call for help because they were afraid of facing consequences. 

If different rules were in place, Norm said his son might still be alive today.

Xavier freshman Andrew Redd, who invited the Finblooms to speak at the university Tuesday, agreed.

"Just encourage people to call 911, to call campus police and inform them that a student has alcohol poisoning," Redd said. “This doesn't encourage more drinking. This encourages safety drinking."

Xavier currently has medical amnesty that reduces sanctions against underage student drinking discovered while seeking emergency treatment. But Redd said the administration can still impose punishment at its discretion.

He wants that eliminated entirely.

"Students are more concerned about what their record is on campus instead of legally, and we want to eliminate that boundary when the situation arises that says you won't get in trouble with the campus as long as you help a fellow musketeer," Redd said.

Xavier Director of Student Integrity Jean Griffin is also in support of the policy.

"I think it's fantastic," Griffin said. "I think it's really, really critical that our students not be dissuaded from calling for help."

But not everyone thinks this policy is a great idea.

Several representatives of the organization Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) said they worry a policy that excuses students drinking under the legal age will encourage binge drinking.

"If they know there's not going to be any sanctions, what's to stop them?" MADD representative Andrea Rehkamp said.

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