Home Politics CSLS: What’s a girl to do?

CSLS: What’s a girl to do?

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We’ve all seen the intoxicated students heading home after a late night endurance contest at the uptown bars. The traditional warning passed down to students has been to walk home with a friend so that the police will not stop you and charge you with “disorderly conduct.” But what if you are female and your friend is male?

Throughout the semester we have encountered reports of police engaging in protective stops to determine if a woman knows her male companion and comprehends the situation. For the underage drinker, this situation is complicated by the fact that being stopped for anything will likely result in a charge for being “underage under the influence of alcohol,” a charge which is considerably more serious than “disorderly conduct.”

The drinker’s dilemma is further exacerbated by the fact that the female student is often given the choice of contacting a female friend to escort her home instead of the guy she is with or go to jail—even when the male is her boyfriend.

The motive behind the officer’s demand may be a sincere attempt to protect women from victimization and it is not our recommendation that women feel apprehensive of officers who are trying to assist them. However, it seems ironic that a female student can suffer the embarrassment of jail and the risks associated with having her criminal record posted on the Internet because a police officer responds to the mere presence of her male companions with a one-size-fits-all solution.

What’s a girl to do when the company of even the most thoughtfully chosen male companion can be misinterpreted as a “cry for help,” resulting in unanticipated legal consequences for the conscientious female? In light of this police approach to the chosen escorts of female students, it would be wise to recommend that women consider calling a female friend to escort them home from the bars. While this double-standard is admittedly unfair, keeping your female roommate or friend on speed-dial during your night out may be safer than dealing with the potential legal consequences of mistaken perception.

This column was brought to you by Managing Attorney, Patrick McGee, Staff Attorney, Melissa Greenlee, and Program Coordinator, Tracy Kelly, at The Center for Student Legal Services.

Additional notes: The Center for Student Legal Services (CSLS) is a non-profit law office created to educate, represent and protect Ohio University students in matters related to identity theft, landlord / tenant issues, alcohol consumption, contract reviews, traffic violations, misdemeanors, credit law and more. For more information, call us at 740-594-8093 or visit our office at 50 S. Court St., Suite D (above College Bookstore).

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