Security looks for new tactic as drinking violations rise

Kelly Byer

The Office of Safety and Security is examining its approach to alcohol violations in residence halls, following an almost 20 percent spike in alcohol-related incidents since last year.

“We’re currently reviewing what our current practices are and looking to possibly modify those for the future,” campus security manager Brian Hellwig said. “Whether that be stricter enforcement, whether that be getting police more involved, those are all the things that we’re discussing at this point.”

Hellwig said campus security will meet with others in residence services by the end of this week to determine how best to approach the problem.

“I think we’ll have a better idea after the meeting, in terms of where we want to go,” Hellwig said. “I do anticipate some changes happening only because of the numbers are just so overwhelming that we can’t really ignore those.”

In addition to the 20 percent increase in alcohol-related incidents, the number of people documented for alcohol policy violations increased about 42 percent since last year, Hellwig said.

While the amount of all policy violations increased, Hellwig said the majority of policy violations, like vandalism or noise, often result from alcohol.

“Part of that I think is because we’re seeing larger and larger groups or gatherings in the halls, larger parties,” he said. “So, more and more people are being documented at one time.”

Crime prevention officer Alice Ickes said the alcohol-related arrests that campus police make don’t always show the extent of the issue.

“The number of arrests doesn’t necessarily reflect the nature of the problem because someone has to call us to complain, or we have to observe it firsthand,” Ickes said. “So, if the residence hall staff or the security aides chose to handle it themselves, we’re not brought into it.”

Hellwig said students have told hall directors that they feel more comfortable drinking on campus because police are not involved in violations.

Currently, a resident assistant or security aide uses an online form to document all students involved in a violation, referring on-campus students to meet with their hall director.

“At that point, they have the option to also refer them to judicial affairs,” Hellwig said. “If it’s a serious policy violation or there’s a repeat offense, they have that option.”

Ickes said Judicial Affairs has an alcohol education program for people involved in alcohol-related incidents and can enforce disciplinary actions ranging from a warning or fine to dismissal from the university.

“They also have educational stipulations, which may include attending an education workshop, writing a reflection or research paper,” she said.

Contact safety reporter Kelly Byer at [email protected].