Minor in possession: UNL students speak out

Story, aggregated content and video by Katrina Sperl, NewsNetNebraska

“I didn’t like how the officer put us in handcuffs and chains around our waist. It was obvious that we had not been heavily drinking,” said Jenna Hargens, UNL senior.

Hargens received her first minor in possession (MIP) at Memorial Stadium. She was retrieving her wrist band with her cousin for the east stadium student section when she was asked if she had been drinking. She said yes and then a UNLPD officer came in a timely manner to take them to the closest police location on campus which is below the stadium parking garage.

The aftermath of Hargens receiving an MIP resulted in community service and paying a fine for breaking the Student Code of Conduct.


UNLPD Captain, Jerry Plessel, said the University does not have a detox so when a student needs to go they are taken to The Bridge.

The Bridge holds approximately 40 persons and their is a limit on juveniles. Plessel said the bridge has met it’s capacity in the past. Officers and other personal on duty will make a determination if medical should be called and then that person would be transported to a local hospital for further observations.

Former UNL student, Tyler Swartz, was given an MIP his freshman year in the lobby of Schramm hall. He said he was talking to someone working the front desk when he was approached by a volunteer cop. Once he was asked a series of questions, the cop checked his dorm room to see if his roommate was around to take care of him. Swartz’s roommate was not there so the volunteer cop called UNLPD to take him to detox.

Swartz said he was given a phone so he could contact someone sober to pick him up from detox.
He was later cited for an MIP and had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .207.

For minors, the legal limit in Nebraska is .02 if they are not driving. If driving, the zero tolerance law comes into effect. A minor under zero tolerance law can be in violation of it even after one drink, regardless if they are impaired or not.

“It was good that they (UNLPD) were looking out for my safety and seeing if I had my roommate around to take care of me” said Swartz.

Popular MIP locations

As the fall season comes to an end, the number of MIP’s on campus begin to decline. Of all 4 seasons, fall takes top of the list when it comes to MIP sitings.

In the last 3 years, 419 MIP’s have been given out on campus. Of the 419, only 7 were cited on East Campus.
“It’s not that we don’t have officers out there, there just isn’t as much action going on,” said Plessel.

Plessel said fall is where you will see most MIP’s because students are away from home for the first time and it’s also football season.

The chart below shows the popular MIP locations in the last 3 years on UNL’s city campus.

What are the steps?

There are three first offenses in regards to alcohol consumption on the UNL campus: possession or in the presence of alcohol, noise violation associated with alcohol, and disruption to the community due to alcohol possession or use.

As for an MIP, Plessel said the state statue requires UNLPD to attempt to call the minors parents and/or guardian after the minor is cited. He also mentioned that many students think you must have a breathalyzer test done in order to be cited for an MIP, but this is false. An MIP can be given as long as the elements are met such as where were they drinking, are they a minor, and going through the steps of determining their BAC level.

Click on this link for the university’s step-by-step process of the behavioral, alcohol and drug intervention plan.

The effect on scholar learning communities

There are 11 scholar communities on the UNL campus. Of those 11, the William H. Thompson learning community is the largest.

This learning community is also the 2nd largest organization on the UNL campus. Scholars are expected to keep a high academia level in order to stay in good standing with their scholarship.

Daniel Haag is the assistant program coordinator for the William H. Thompson scholars learning community. He said that when students are cited for an MIP and staff is notified, they then stay in touch with that student on a regular basis.

“We as staff hope that student discontinues their behavior and attends to the appropriate resources…They will hopefully learn from it and move on with the rest of their lives.”

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