Alcohol-related arrests down on campus

Scott Dotterer, Office of Health Promotion Coordinator, speaks in front of a group of freshman during an Alcohol Awareness workshop on Monday.  

Becca Sagaris

There has been a 22.8% decrease in Liquor Law Violation arrests on Kent State’s campus; a major improvement just over the course of a year.

Community Resource Officer Tricia Knoles explains that the reason Liquor Law Violation arrests are dropping is because of a rise in education and programs provided at Kent State, regarding alcohol awareness.

“I really think a lot of the education and doing things like Alcohol Awareness Week, leading up to Halloween, has really slowed down those activities, which is a good thing,” Knoles said. “Keeps people much safer.” 

Education and outreach programs related to alcohol awareness on campus has helped decrease alcohol-related student arrests because it allows students to recognize the effects and risks associated with alcohol, helping them make better decisions.

Many organizations and departments at Kent State take initiative to provide programs, resources and other educational opportunities for students to learn about alcohol, signs of abuse and the risks associated with drinking. 

“One of the things we do is go to just about every First Year Experience class,” Knoles said. “We do an alcohol awareness party safety, which is typically done in October before Halloween.” 

In past years, Halloween and other holidays, like Fake Patty’s Day and Homecoming, significantly affect the drinking rates on campus. 

“They used to be very, very bad,” Knoles said. “We’ve had robberies. We’ve had fights. We’ve had a person that people jumped out of the car and just punched him from behind and his head hit the concrete and he passed away. We’ve had all kinds of crazy things happen on Halloween in years past.” 

Lately, though, things have been dying down.

University Health Services hosted Alcohol Awareness Week, a week-long series of events designed to raise awareness on alcohol use with college students. 

Events included resource tables, a presentation on binge drinking and two sessions of Lunch with a Lawyer, where students were given the opportunity to listen to an attorney talk about the real-life consequences of drinking.

At the resource tables, Knoles talks about college drinking trends at Kent State. 

“We might be average to below average, but the alcohol issues are still there,” Knoles said. 

According to the Kent State University Annual Security Report, there were 177 arrests in 2016 under “Liquor Law Violations,” 136 of which, 76.8%, took place in the residence halls. In 2017, that number dropped to 100 arrest, 54 of which, 54%, took place in the residence halls. 

In the Kent State University Police Services’ Daily Report Log, records show that there have been 13 criminal offenses regarding alcohol since the start of school this semester, four of which involve underage persons and one of which involve driving under the influence. 

“Even if we are below average, we still strive to take it a step further to educate people on safe drinking if you are going to drink,” Knoles said. “We definitely do not want someone drinking under the age of 21, but if they choose to drink, to at least be responsible.” 

Meagan Walters, an Intern for the Office of Health Promotion, presented to a room full of first- year students about binge drinking. 

“Alcohol is a prominent part of the college social scene,” Walters said, during her presentation. “Too often, college students are harmed by risky drinking, usually because of inaccurate information, misperceptions or lack of forethought about alcohol use.” 

Walters addressed the concept of the “standard drink,” explaining that different drinks contain varying amounts of alcohol. Knowing this can help a person stay safe while drinking. 

Attorney Chris Sestak, from Student Legal Services, spoke at the first session for Lunch with a Lawyer. During his talk, he touched on many different topics within college drinking, including the many risks associated with drinking. 

“It’s only illegal if you’re not 21 or you do it in excess,” Sestak said. “There are health consequences, too. Your license could get suspended. The consequences are just so severe.” 

Sestak also touched on ways to drink in a safe, responsible way. 

“Plan a safety plan for yourself, and it sounds kind of corny, but it’s a very easy and effective thing for you to do,” Sestak said. “Even if it’s a group of friends going out, there’s always safety in numbers. If you stay in a group, you’re more likely to be protected from predators of any kind or police interactions.” 

At parties, only having sober people interact with the police or providing garbage and recycling cans so nobody is walking down the street with a beer in their hand can also reduce the risk of the dangers associated with drinking, Sestak said. 

“Just kind of simple things,” Sestak said. “It makes life a lot easier in the long run. Those things you plan become habits and you don’t even have to think about doing them when you want to go out or have fun.”

Becca Sagaris covers health. Contact her at [email protected]