Dimon Kendrick-Holmes

Dimon Kendrick-Holmes: Getting oriented at UGA

Earlier this week, I attended parent orientation for rising freshmen at the University of Georgia.

Some of the presentations were confusing. For example, I'm still not sure how many class hours the HOPE scholarship will cover or under what circumstances you can return a textbook to the bookstore and actually get a full refund.

But one message was clear, whether the topic was health services, student housing or campus organizations: Some of your children will be going to jail.

This wasn't surprising. I often recruit journalists at UGA, and I sometimes slip in an interview question. Actually, it's more of a statement: "So, I searched your name on Google."

And for the next couple of minutes the poor kid will explain how, three or four years ago, he got arrested for public intoxication. And he'll say the same thing happened to most of his friends.

This week, while sitting in orientation, I posted this observation on Facebook: "Recurring theme at UGA parent orientation: Sometimes students go to jail."

It got quite the response.

A buddy sitting a couple of rows behind me replied on his smart phone, "They don't have detention but they do have jail!"

One wise guy said, "Then they go to Auburn."

A parent of a recent Georgia Tech graduate wrote, "At GT, they told us to prepare what we are going to say to our student when they call home and tell you that they got a 25 on a test."

Several Georgia alumni responded to say they survived four years in Athens with nary a brush with the law. I'm not sure if this was supposed to be a testimony to their high standards or a statement that the police are cracking down harder than they did 20 years ago.

My favorite Facebook comment: "Is your daughter going there to play football?"

Later that day, during a break, my wife and I walked past the largest human being we've ever seen. It was Jonathan Taylor, a sophomore defensive tackle for Mark Richt's Bulldogs.

You don't often see an athletic-looking 330-pounder, but Taylor definitely fit the bill.

You probably know why I'm mentioning Taylor.

Later in the day, Jimmy Williamson, the UGA Police Chief, spoke to parents and students.

He reminded them that if you're underage and have any amount of alcohol in your body, you're in violation of the law. The question on most everyone's mind was how aggressively Williamson and his officers intend to enforce this. He answered it — sort of — by saying that most students get arrested because somebody else calls to complain about them. Or they're walking down a major thoroughfare with a stolen street sign.

Sometimes mothers ask him to scare their sons so they won't do anything stupid. "You've had 18 years to scare them," he'll say.

He said that Athens is one of the poorest cities of its size and therefore has a high level of crime, and that being under the influence of alcohol or drugs increases your chances of becoming a victim.

He said he wished he could play tapes of the times he's had to call parents to tell them one of their children has died.

It was a rousing speech and maybe it will do some good.

The next day we woke up to the news that Taylor had been arrested and charged with aggravated assault. Not long after, he was kicked off the team. You wonder which university will take him next.

You also wonder if things will ever change.

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