As your son or daughter gets ready to attend their first year at Messiah University, we ask that you take some time to sit down with him or her to discuss several important issues. Throughout the country, as first year college students start their college years they face new challenges. Their decisions and their decision-making skills in college are often tested, not just through academic tests but in their social choices as well. As you may be aware, the social choices they make can have serious and significant legal, health-related, emotional, and academic consequences. Studies indicate that what parents say has a substantial effect on the choices their sons and daughters make. In light of this, we are asking you to prepare your son/daughter by educating him/her about the following issues before they become members of the Messiah University community.
Alcohol/Drug Use: In Pennsylvania, the legal drinking age is 21. One of the major issues facing college campuses is underage drinking and binge drinking (for men, drinking five or more drinks in one setting, for women, four or more drinks in one setting.)
- Recent studies indicate that there is a positive correlation between high alcohol use (4.5 drinks or more a week) and lower academic achievement. In addition, other recent studies indicate that 1 in 3 college students now drink primarily to get drunk.
- Many first year students arrive on college campuses with false/fake I.D.’s which are then used to illegally obtain alcohol. In Pennsylvania, it is a summary offense to possess a fake I.D. and a misdemeanor in the second degree for the making or selling of a false I.D.
- Research also finds less frequent alcohol use among young people who feel highly connected to their parents and family members.
- As for drug use in college, it is a risky endeavor because of the potential health, academic and legal consequences. Please talk to your son or daughter about the reality of these risks so that they can make healthy and informed choices.
Sexual assault: One in four college women will have been sexually assaulted by the end of their college career, and the majority of these assaults are acquaintance rapes, not stranger rapes, suggesting a tremendous level of miscommunication about sexual expectations between people.
- Ask (or educate) your son or daughter about sexual assault and sending clear messages in their relationships with others. The law clearly states that no means no.
- In addition, share with your son or daughter that alcohol and drug use increases the risk of being a sexual assault victim and increase one’s risk of being an offender. Additionally, several drugs, Rohypnol (aka “Roofies”) and GHB, dubbed the “date rape drugs” are easily slipped into drinks without easy detection.
Hate Crimes: Messiah University is a diverse community of which we are proud. Sometimes, some of our newer students come from environments that are not as rich in cultural and religious diversity.
- Hateful speech and conduct against others of different backgrounds and cultures is unacceptable and does not belong in a community of Christian scholars.
- Harassment of others, for any reason, including race, gender, sexual orientation, or personal differences is against university policy and disciplinary action will result.
Residence Halls: Living on campus and having a roommate may pose new challenges for your son or daughter.
- If your son or daughter will have a roommate at Messiah University, encourage him/her to discuss “living expectations” with the new roommate- to problem-solve and not let problems escalate. Roommates need to communicate with one another so that it never reaches the point where neither is speaking to one another or retaliatory action puts one roommate in a position where disciplinary action could result. Resident Directors and Resident Assistants are good resources for your son or daughter if any roommate problems surface.
Weapons: Firearms are prohibited on university property.
- Weapons that are considered potentially dangerous, harmful, and/or lethal are prohibited. This includes but is not limited to the following: ammunition, bows and arrows, crossbows, knives, clubs, whips, spears, swords, martial arts weapons, BB guns, CO2 guns, pellet guns, water balloon launchers. Some of the aforementioned items may be required for classroom use and are permitted for this use only. These items must be registered with the Department of Safety. In extenuating circumstances, appeals to this policy should be made to the Director of Safety for consideration.
How can your son or daughter request help? For many of our new students, attending college is the first time they have had to take on such a substantial, independent responsibility. As a parent or family member, you may be the first person to recognize that your son or daughter needs help. Here are some of the resources available for you and your son or daughter.
- Engle Center for Counseling and Health Services (717) 691-6035
- Residence Education (717) 796-5239
- Department of Safety (717) 691-6005
- University Ministries (717) 691-6017
Finally, talk to your son or daughter about peer pressure and pressure that she/he might place on him/herself to “fit in.” Although many students perceive or believe that the use of drugs and alcohol are integral parts of “university life”, please help your son and daughter understand that if he or she makes right choices, your son or daughter will “fit in.”
Thank you for taking the time to help us make Messiah University a community and our students responsible and productive citizens.
Department of Safety