First Year Programs

Student Legal Services

Student Legal Services

Student Legal Services assists students in identifying and resolving legal problems. If a legal problem threatens to interfere with your effectiveness as a student, Student Legal Services may aid in resolving or minimizing that legal complication. Our goal is to provide prompt, efficient and high quality legal assistance. Proper attention to any legal matter- even if you may not believe it is serious -will often prevent more complex legal difficulties.

Each year, freshmen at Bowling Green State University are faced with new and exciting academic challenges as they complete their first semester of college. Unfortunately, they are also faced with seemingly ordinary decisions outside the classroom that can have dire consequences if not handled properly. Student Legal Services helps students each semester with problems such as these:

Credit Card Use

Have you seen display tables filled with free stuff and all you have to do to get the free stuff is fill out an application for a credit card? Sound like a good idea? Well – before you do, stop and think! By the time the average college student graduates, they have something else to take with them – an average credit card debt of $2,500. Although some students look at credit cards as a way to build a good credit history, the reality is that most students do not have the income to pay the full balances each month. This translates into large balances with interest that accrues daily. Remember, it’s easy to use a credit card to get something you want, fast, but eventually you will be required to pay for it. Before you sign up for a credit card – think about your monthly income, how much money do you really have that can go toward a monthly credit card bill? Also, if you get a credit card will you really just use it “for emergencies” or will you find yourself making purchases that you really don’t need? If you must get a credit card, it’s safer to start out with one with a low credit limit, no annual fee, and make yourself pay off the balance each month as soon as you receive a bill.

Online Communities

Everyone loves using Facebook and MySpace. These are a fun, easy way to meet new friends, communicate with old ones, and find out if that guy in your English class has a girlfriend. What you may not realize is that posting on Facebook and MySpace is not as private as you might like it to be. Yes, you can limit your groups to only those invited, but EVERYONE can view your postings. More and more on college campuses law enforcement are using these accounts as a way to investigate crimes. Students who unwarily post information regarding drinking binges, using drugs, or vandalizing their ex’s car may be opening themselves up to criminal prosecution because they reveal the info on these sites. So, next time you go to make that posting, think about what you really want others to find out about you.

Underage Alcohol Consumption

By the time you get to college, most students aren’t only thinking about classes and declaring their major, but the new people that they can meet and the new social life they can create. For many freshmen it’s their first time living for an extended period of time away from home and the rules of living “under your parents’ roof.” Unfortunately, for a lot of freshmen their new social life may include social drinking, even though the average freshman this year was born in 1991, putting them well below the legal drinking age. Reality is that if you decide drinking should be a part of your social life, and you are underage, you could go out wanting to party, but end up coming home with a criminal citation. The three typical citations for underage drinking are Underage Possession of Alcohol, Underage Under the Influence, and Underage Consumption. Each are classified as first degree misdemeanors, with penalties up to $1,000 and 6 months in jail. A typical sentence will include a fine, suspended jail time and probation until you are age 21. So, before you decide to go out drinking with your new friends down the hall, think about whether it’s really worth the risk.

If you have any questions regarding these issues or need assistance with any legal problem, do not hesitate to contact Student Legal Services at 100 Wooster Street Center or 372-2951.
www.bgsu.edu/offices/sls/

Rodney A. Fleming
Managing Attorney
Student Legal Services at Bowling Green State University