Alcohol-related residence hall offenses drop

Cody Francis

Residence Services attributes new policy as difference-maker

VIEW am interactive map displaying on-campus offenses for the spring semester thus far.

Through the first half of this semester, Residence Services noticed a significant decline in alcohol-related incidents in the residence halls as compared to the 2008 Spring semester.

Over Spring Break, Residence Services collected data on alcohol-related incidents through the first eight weeks of each semester to analyze the effectiveness of the new alcohol policy implemented at the beginning of this semester.

A letter sent to students in January stated the new policy: “Underage individuals who are identified as having consumed alcohol will be cited by the police for a violation of state law and will also be referred to the University Judicial Affairs office for a violation of university policy.”

Before this semester, the police were not called for underage drinking in the residence halls.

Director of Residence Services Betsy Joseph said so far this semester, there has been a 33.66 percent decrease in the number of alcohol related incidents in the residence halls. There were 67 violations, compared to last spring’s 101. Also, there has been about a 31 percent decrease in the number of individuals present at these incidents, with 262 this spring compared to 378 in 2008.

The statistics show improvement, and Joseph was clear that the new policy looks to be the difference maker.

“Clearly there is a decline, and the primary difference between this spring and last spring is the way we’ve responded,” Joseph said. “The change is in the protocol of responding to underage drinking.”

Not all Residence Services employees are convinced that the new policy is the reason for the change. Jill Church, associate director of residential communities, did not want to jump on the bandwagon just yet.

“I hope that it’s having an effect,” Church said. “The numbers indicate that something is happening, but I’m not 100 percent confident that (the new policy) is what is having the effect yet. We’ll see over time.”

Joseph said one of the most interesting statistics is the number of repeat offenders.

“The other data we looked at was ‘repeat violators’ – defined as students with multiple alcohol violations during the first eight weeks,” Joseph said. “Last Spring there were 25 individuals with more than one documentation. This spring there are only 10 individuals with multiple violations. This is a 60 percent decline in the recidivism rate for this time period.”

Residence Services will continue to track the statistics over the rest of the semester to see if the declining trend continues.

“We have a half of a semester to go, but the true test will be next fall and next spring,” Church said.

In the meantime, Joseph has a very positive view of what has happened so far this spring.

“Clearly, there is a difference. At this point in time, it appears (the new policy) is helping us achieve the goal we hoped,” she said.

Contact safety reporter Cody Francis at [email protected].