By Kip Jones, Class of 2017
Friday, Nov. 14 at 10 p.m., all campus gates will be locked except for the back entrance near Timmons and the Main gate. During this time, students will not be able to leave or enter campus without stopping at one of these DUI checkpoints where FUPO intends to test every driver between the hours of 12 a.m. to 3 a.m. with a breathalyzer.
I would like to feel that my campus police are there to help us when needed and keep the student body safe. I do not think anyone wants our campus police to be putting effort into getting students in trouble, and although at first glance this may seem like FUPO is trying to get students in trouble, I am here to tell you that is not their intention. When I spoke with Police Chief Tom Saccenti about the issue, he agreed that he does want the students to feel like the Police Department is out to get them. Why does FUPO feel it is necessary? Have we done something to deserve losing the trust of our own Police Department?
The letter from Chief Saccenti stated that the purpose is to “change behavior and reinforce the use of designated drivers.” During Chief Saccenti’s time at Furman there have been roughly six or so DUI incidents off campus and two car accidents. This is why the Officer Saccenti felt the need to hold a meeting and bring up the conversation about having DUI checkpoints on campus.
The letter went on to say, “…we will publicize the checkpoints in a very transparent way. We do not want this to be a surprise to anyone. We will attain our intended outcome if we have 100 percent compliance at these checkpoints and don’t find a single intoxicated driver.”
This is the most important statement in deciding the true reason for the checkpoints. Yes, FUPO wants us to use designated drivers and be safe and responsible because they genuinely do care about our lives. In addition, a mention of having DUI checkpoints last semester with 100 percent of the drivers having been sober appeals to parents in the admissions office alike. Maybe one of the ulterior motives of this engagement is to be able to depict the university as a safe place which I believe most of the student body would say is a fair statement to make.
What I care about, as a fellow student, is the fact that they let us know. When I asked Officer Saccenti if there would ever be random checkpoints he said, “As of now all checkpoints will be announced to the student body.” Not only did they tell us when and where the checkpoints would be, but if you do blow above the legal limit, “FUPO will not be charging anyone criminally for the DUI.” This is huge.
Criminal DUI’s can ruin job opportunities. Seniors who already are set up to work for a firm or are planning to attend graduate school can get their job offers withdrawn and their acceptance denied. A single DUI can make every individual’s hard work at this school so much less valuable and the Furman Police Department knows that. This makes me feel like the Furman University Police Department is getting one step closer to acting like an older brother looking after us, rather than an authority figure wanting to get us in trouble. I believe this is a move for the best.