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Minnesota State-Mankato vows to get tough on student drinking

MANKATO, Minn. (AP) _ Less than a month after a former student died from drinking too much while celebrating her 21st birthday, officials at Minnesota State University, Mankato, have vowed to get tougher on student drinking.

"Somebody has got to help wake these students up," said university President Richard Davenport. "We need to do more than we are. It's just not acceptable to have a student death due to binge drinking."

On Oct. 30, Amanda Jax, a former Minnesota State-Mankato student, died after drinking. Her blood-alcohol level reached nearly 0.46 percent. On Nov. 18, Rissa Amen-Reif was hit by a car and killed. Mankato police believe alcohol was involved.

Now, Minnesota State-Mankato officials say the athletic department will no longer accept advertising and sponsorships from liquor stores and beer distributorships. Relationships with bars and restaurants will be examined on a case-by-case basis.

Also, the university will increase penalties for alcohol use in dorms -- and it's possible the school could ban alcohol on campus altogether. Currently, alcohol is served at some wedding receptions and special events at the student center.

"We need to have a very, very tough policy, something that's even tougher than anything we've seen in this state," Davenport said. "I'm really concerned with the image of the university. It's not a party school. We're a serious place. We have doctoral programs now. We're in a different league, our prestige has increased and we just can't have these kind of things going on."

Currently, students caught with alcohol in the dormitories are put on probation, fined and must undergo alcohol education, even on the first offense. A third offense gets a student kicked out of the residence halls. Davenport favors doubling or tripling the amount of the fine.

When it comes to athletics, Minnesota State-Mankato competes at the Division I level in hockey. Because it plays in a city-owned building, fans can purchase beer, wine and mixed drinks at concessions. It is the only one of the state's five Division I hockey programs that allows alcohol to be sold that openly.

Davenport says the bottom line is that many things will have to change.