Students reminded of conduct expectations around substance abuse

Alex Johnson

Kent State sent the university an email regarding substance abuse and student conduct, warning students to pay close attention and reach out for help.

“Being a Kent State University student comes with some basic responsibilities that are inherent to being a member of both the University and the City of Kent communities,” the university stated in an email sent Feb. 11. 

Kent State sent the email in compliance with the U.S. Department of Education’s Drug Free Schools and Communities Act.

The university must submit a review every two years, providing the public with an assessment of alcohol and illicit substance abuses on campus and of its own handling of those incidents.

Todd Kamenash, the assistant dean of students and the director of the Office of Student Conduct, said that the university must adhere to the guidelines of observance and self-assessment or the government could withhold funding from it.

“We don’t just get to say we care about students­­­­­­ — we actually have to show it,” Kamenash said.

Conduct violations related to marijuana and alcohol abuse consistently rank within the top four student conduct issues handled by the university each year, said Kamenash.

Many of the individuals who get sent to the Office of Student Conduct are referred by the campus police after arrests or incidents. The university’s annual safety report shows that 222 arrests were made for drug or liquor law violations by the university police, 122 of which took place in residence halls.

The university police have made 65 arrests for crimes related to illegal substances on campus since Dec. 24. Most arrests were made for underage drinking and possession or use of marijuana and marijuana paraphernalia.

However, not all students who face university referral and discipline are arrested.

“A lot of times that’s actually handled through the Office of Student Conduct and never really reaches the police department,” said Tricia Knoles, the community resource officer for the Kent State University Police Department.

In 2017, 96 referrals were made to the Office of Student Conduct for liquor law violations in residence halls, but there were only 54 arrests.

“The only time it reaches the police department is typically when there are many people in a residence hall, when they’re having a large party, when there’s a lot of alcohol present per person or they’re being uncooperative,” Knoles said. 

Knoles said it is up to officer discretion when determining whether or not they want to do a criminal charge. 

Knoles recognized there are seasonal factors at play. Students are less likely to go out during colder times of the year, and students tend to violate conduct from their residence hall.

Popular events like Halloween and the upcoming Fake Patty’s Day celebrations also cause a spike in conduct violations.

“We’re really hoping to get the word out with Fake Patty’s Day,” Knoles said. “You can have fun and be responsible, but you also need to know when your party is starting to get out of control.”

Though disciplinary measures are taken when conduct violations occur, Kamenash said it is the university’s top priority to make sure students are able to recover from their mistakes as well as avoid them.

“If you’re on eggshells the entire time, that’s not a way to live life; it’s better to make those mistakes now when costs are low,” he said. “We want students to leave here with a better sense of ethics and values.”

Contact Alex Johnson

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