HARRISONBURG, VA (WWBT) – Consider it a last call for violators. James Madison University's president is putting his foot down after an off-campus party involving thousands got out-of-control. So Beginning this fall, the policies for underage drinking and alcohol will be updated.
JMU students want to forget the party in April that was broken up with tear-gas.
"People see that around the country and they're like look at these idiots at JMU," said student Travis Lauritzen. "They just have any idea how to act. And it just makes everybody look bad."
This week a letter to students outlined changes to the alcohol policy.
"This is about transforming the alcohol culture at JMU, and Spring Fest was that tipping point for us," he said.
Travis Lauritzen read the letter today.
"It sounds like a good effort," said Lauritzen, a junior. "I don't know how successful they are going to be. It sounds like a lot of people are going to get arrested, so as the year goes on, it may clam things down."
"We're not about trying to get rid of everyone's fun," said JMU spokesperson Don Egle. "That's not the goal here. What we're saying is we want folks to do it responsibly."
Joseph Lass is glad police and ABC officers will crack down on underage drinkers and people who sell them alcohol.
"The bars that I have been to, they have been very good about carding people and taking care of the underage drinking," said Joseph Lass.
Students who rack up alcohol offenses could be suspended.
JMU already prohibits alcohol on campus, including in residence halls. It's now reaching out to off-campus apartment complexes, hoping managers there will help in the crackdown. The goal is for managers to call police when there is an illegal outdoor party. And parents will now get a postcard prior to their child's 21st birthday- reminding them to talk about safe drinking practices. JMU hopes the changes resonate with students.
"It will take a little bit of adjustment, but we're confident that they will step it up and meet those expectations," said Egle.
But right now some students are upset the emergency text notification was used to alert students of the letter.
"Although this may not be an emergency this has everything to do with the safety and well-being of our students," said Egle.
JMU will continue to use the emergency alert system when information regarding student safety needs to be released.
Letter to students from JMU president Linwood Rose:
JMU substance abuse prevention program: