Students divided over bill

Ben Burke

ISU students who are caught drinking underage or using illegal drugs won’t just have to answer to the law anymore — they might have to answer to their parents, too.

Gov. Tom Vilsack signed the parental notification bill earlier this month, which permits university officials to contact the parents or guardians of college students if they’re arrested for drinking underage or using illegal drugs.

The bill was authored by Rep. Roger Thomas, D-Elkader, who told the Daily in an interview published in April that he got the idea after he heard stories about students being kicked out of their universities because of alcohol infractions, and their parents wanted to know why they hadn’t been called.

However, just because the bill was passed doesn’t mean ISU officials are obligated to contact parents if their sons or daughters get in hot water, said Paul Tanaka, director of University Legal Services.

“This bill doesn’t require the university to do anything; it only allows for student information to be released. Many national institutions feel that this is an important tool to have. It will allow them to combat alcohol problems,” Tanaka said.

However, not all ISU students agree the bill is a valuable tool. Some students said they believe the bill violates their civil rights.

Government of the Student Body President Ben Golding noted many members of student government are opposed to the bill.

“We were opposed to the bill because it violated our rights, and the university agreed with us. I understand that ISU is not changing their current stand on the issue,” said Golding, senior in construction engineering.

Golding noted that the bill has been modified, but he said it’s still a problem.

“The bill is very watered down, but we are still concerned because it takes away one more right to privacy for students at ISU,” he said.

Mary Ludwigs, senior in finance, also called the bill a violation of students’ rights.

“If we are old enough to vote, we are old enough to not have our parents notified if we misbehave,” Ludwigs said. “We no longer live at our parents’ homes and, therefore, are now allowed to make mistakes and learn from them on our own.”

Melissa McCarty, junior in computer science, also shared Ludwigs’ viewpoint.

“I think we’re old enough to make our own decisions. We’re adults, and we shouldn’t have to have our parents babysitting us while we’re at college,” McCarty said.

Not every ISU student believes the bill will have a negative impact.

John Trevillyan, senior in management information systems, said he believes parents should be notified in any instance if their child commits a crime while they’re away at college.

“If the student is out on their own, supporting themselves, what can a parent do if they find out their child was arrested?” Trevillyan asked. “But if they are being supported, then the parents should definitely know if a child commits underage drinking or any crime.”