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College class requires illegal alcohol for class - what do you do?


Rain

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My daughter just took an online chemistry class.  For one of the classes she was required to get Everclear to test.  Because she is only 19 I had to go get it for her.  

Then we discovered, after going to store after store for another required substance, for that same lab there was a student from 5 years ago that got it illegally from a friend at the hospital because you can't get it elsewhere.  

Then we discovered that a third substance we couldn't find is kept in a locked cabinet at my friend's lab because it is so dangerous.  

I feel I really need to talk to someone about this. My daughter did mention to her professor that she couldn't get some of the items and why and she was not docked for it.  But there is a pattern here of kids in a freshman chemistry class having to get substances that are illegal for them to get.  I did talk to a man the state alcohol agency (can't remember the name) over it and he said that yes, it would be illegal for them to be using those items outside a classroom setting (like she is doing because it is online).  Normally he would give the school a citation if he were looking into it.  He said that because she was still in the middle of the class and I wanted to handle it that he would let me do it, but gave me his number if I changed my mind. (While she was in the class I didn't want to give him the schools info, but she is done with the class now).

So, do I:

1. Have my daughter email the teacher even though this has been going on for 5 years

2. Have my daughter call the assistant dean over the apartment (she needed some help with pre req stuff to get into the class and this person was very responsive)

3.  I call the asst dean myself

4. I call the state alcohol guy

The college is a great service to us and the assistant dean really bent over backwards in helping my daughter get into the class.  Overall I think I should call her, as a concerned parent, to let her know what is up rather than just turn them in so they can get a fine.  But then, maybe she already knows about what was going on in the class?  So I was thinking I would call and see how she reacts and then decide whether to go to the state guy.

 What would you do?  

 

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My background coming into this: I work at a college, and have taught freshman courses.  

You (the parent) don't do anything.  The minute a parent gets involved, college professors just roll their eyes and think "my students need to learn to be adults and quit running to mommy".

This is your daughter's class, she's the one who should address it.  First, wait until the class is over and she has her final grade.  That way the professor can't take anything out on her (not that s/he would, but just as a safety net).  As soon as it is done, email the state alcohol guy with the school's name, course number, and professor.  You can also email the professor about your concerns at that time.  Keep everything in email which creates a paper trail.

 

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This is totally unacceptable. I would contact the department chair. If you're worried about repercussions for your daughter, do it anonymously.  If that doesn't get results, I would seriously call the local news station and let them investigate it.  Universities cannot require students to participate in illegal activities. Privacy laws are tricky when they involve discussing your child. If you get flack for interfering as a parent then point out that THEY got you involved by requiring your underage student to purchase alcohol. Having an online chemistry lab is a stupid idea but I'm sure there are plenty of safe and legal substances they can use without resorting to this.

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I think professors may react negatively to parents getting involved, but administrative people will be well aware the parents are often the ones footing the bill and they need to be paid attention to.

I don't know how I would approach it, if the school deserves your loyalty (it seems it does), it sounds like a good idea to broach the subject with the assistant dean depending on if your daughter is comfortable with that...

Anonymity however ensures no blowback on your daughter if someone with authority gets annoyed with her.  Does she have more years taking courses from this college?

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5 hours ago, Calm said:

I think professors may react negatively to parents getting involved, but administrative people will be well aware the parents are often the ones footing the bill and they need to be paid attention to.

I don't know how I would approach it, if the school deserves your loyalty (it seems it does), it sounds like a good idea to broach the subject with the assistant dean depending on if your daughter is comfortable with that...

Anonymity however ensures no blowback on your daughter if someone with authority gets annoyed with her.  Does she have more years taking courses from this college?

Maybe, but probably not. Long story short, she is going to another college, but found out she was missing a course and needed to take it this summer or be kicked out of her major. With all of our stuff going on this summer, an online class was the only way to get it in and this was the college that would work with everything. She is now done and has transferred the course to her college, but if we came across a similar situation again we would like to keep options open. 

My bigger concern is that she lives with us. A lot of the 18 and 19yos taking this course don't live with their parents. While I was somewhat ok getting the Everclear for her since I know her well, I am not comfortable with the idea of these kids asking friends to get it for them. After I found out that the one student got one of the other things secretly from the hospital we didn't even look for it anymore.  So it makes me concerned for the students who don't have parents around more than a concern about taking a class there again. 

That's why I am asking here. Normally I would just say, "you are an adult now" and encourage her to do something (though still not sure what), but the seriousness of this plus the fact that it has been asked of students for more than 5 years is why I have questioned if I should get involved. 

On the lab instructions it says things like it should be easy to find this at a Walgreens, CVS etc or this at an auto parts or paint store etc. Either the students are saying nothing to the teacher and the teacher doesn't know or the teacher doesn't care. It's just hard for me to believe that no one would have said anything in at least 5 years. 

Edited by Rain
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7 hours ago, katherine the great said:

This is totally unacceptable. I would contact the department chair. If you're worried about repercussions for your daughter, do it anonymously.  

I agree with KtG about contacting the dept chair first before anyone else... When I worked at San Fran St Univ as Admin Asst to the Dir of the Univ Library and Learning Resources, I can't tell you how many disgruntled library patrons would come to our office demanding to see the Director over some issue...  Truth was, the Director refused to see any complaintant until that person had met with the dept chair.  This was only fair, i.e., to let the dept chair know what was going on in his/her dept and to handle it before it reached the Director... The dept chair could advise the Dir in their weekly one-on-one mtg.  So, it fell to me to face the angry patron and explain the policy to them as I walked them down to the proper dept/chair... I also agree that what the prof is requiring is unacceptable and action is required to stop it... 

GG

Edited by Garden Girl
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When I was in the police academy (at a community college), we had a class in which we needed a couple of students to volunteer to get drunk so that we could use breathalyzers on them, give them sobriety tests, and examine their eyes for nystagmus.  They had to be of legal drinking age, and had to have a sober companion to drive them home.  The booze was supplied by the instructor. Worked out great, and no laws were violated.

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