By Althea Peterson

Transcript Staff Writer

Everyone makes mistakes, but the OU Regents are now giving students a chance to erase them.

The University of Oklahoma Board of Regents approved a change at its Tuesday meeting for the “three strikes” policy. The policy involves notifying parents and guardians of alcohol-related violations, including underage drinking and driving under the influence.

The change gives students the opportunity to “request that the strike and the record be removed from their student file, providing the student meets the relevant eligibility criteria.” The student must wait one year after receiving the strike, and not receive any additional strikes or additional charges. The strike-removal policy does not apply to DUIs.

Clarke Stroud, OU vice president for student affairs, said the proposition was made because of the “educational premise,” to put OU in coordination with municipal and district courts’ deferred sentencing, and to give students a second chance to have a clean slate.

“What our hope is our policy engages students in what the consequences are of drinking,” Stroud said. “We feel there are teachable moments where students can learn from their mistakes.”

Stroud noted that since the policy began in January 2005, two organizations have received one strike, 583 students have received their first strike, 25 students have received their second strike and one student received a third.

“(The proposed policy change) had nothing to do with statistics,” Stroud said.

The OU Alcohol Awareness policy was implemented shortly after the fall 2004 death of OU freshman Blake Hammontree, a Sigma Chi pledge. It requires all OU fraternity and sorority houses, in addition to dormitories, to be dry. The policy applies to both on-campus and off-campus alcohol violations.

“(The change) sets up an addition to our alcohol policy to make it more fair to students who make a one-time mistake,” Stroud said. “We understand that students will not always make the right decision, but this gives students the chance to wipe their slate clean.”

However, first-time offenders will still need to pay a $75 administrative fee, “satisfactorily complete” an alcohol education program and have a notation of “censure,” which is removed after graduation and “completion of disciplinary sanctions.”

“The changes to the alcohol policy are made in an effort to be fairer to our students and allow those who have learned from their mistakes to have their records wiped clean,” said OU President David Boren in a statement. “Often students are facing a new environment when they come to college and mistakes can be made. The changes also bring our policy in line with judicial procedures of the court system. As an educational institution, it is appropriate for us to provide an incentive for students to learn from their mistakes. I recommended this change after listening carefully to suggestions from student leaders and student groups who gave me constructive advice on ways to improve our policy.”

Second-time offenders have a $150 fee, 20 hours of community service, alcohol counseling and disciplinary probation. A third offense results in a minimum one-semester suspension. Parents or guardians are notified by mail after each strike received by their student.

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