U Police credit spike in drug

Craig Gustafson

Two new drug policies instituted by University residence halls this fall are responsible in part for a 45 percent increase in campus drug citations.
In 1998 campus police issued 105 drug citations on campus, as compared to 72 citations in 1997. University Police said the two new policies have had some impact on the dramatic increase.
The first is a “no-tolerance” policy issued in all residence halls. Ralph Rickgarn, coordinator of student behavior for Housing and Residential Life, said if a student is found responsible for a controlled substance, such as marijuana, within the building, the student’s housing contract will be terminated.
This policy includes using or possessing any drug, as well as being responsible for the behavior of guests inside the residence halls.
Despite the policy, incidences of drug use and possession in the residence halls have increased, Rickgarn said.
“I expected the increase,” he said, adding that studies have shown that high-achieving high school students have increased their use of marijuana.
“Just because you leave high school and go to college doesn’t mean you stop doing drugs,” Rickgarn said.
Lucas Schaan, a Carlson School of Management freshman living in Territorial Hall, said he knew of two instances where students were kicked out of a residence hall because of drug use. However, he said usage was more prevalent in his high school.
“Incidences of drug use (in Territorial) are minute compared to my high school,” Schaan said.
The second method implemented in residence halls this year is the Student Security Monitors program. The monitors are students, but not hall residents. They are trained by University Police and regularly patrol the residence halls, checking out disturbances, which is something that has never been done before.
The monitors are trained in first aid and carry police radios, which provide a direct link to University Police. Besides the residence halls, security monitors patrol other campus buildings and streets. They also provide an escort service, taking students to and from various campus areas.
Prior to the implementation of the monitor program, resident assistants routinely checked the halls as night managers and called the police in if needed.
Sgt. Jo Anne Benson of the University Police said the security monitors offer more consistency and better response times than previous methods. Before, a resident assistant would have to find a phone and call the police. Now, a security monitor is on the scene, in direct contact with police, telling them whether the situation warrants action or not.
“It’s a different presence,” said University Police Sgt. Erik Swanson. “It’s a little hard for people who live there to crack down on someone they have to see every day.”
Hillary Vogt, a Sanford Hall resident, said the security monitors are doing a good job, but they are less lenient than night managers were last year, when she lived in Middlebrook Hall.
“The night managers were really nice,” Vogt said. “The security monitors are way more strict with the rules. They’re really rigid.”
Benson said the reason for the increase in citations wasn’t necessarily more drug use but better police action.
“We’re hiring newer officers with better training to identify and locate drug people,” she said. “Our senior officers are also participating in new drug enforcement training.”
There are 10 new officers with less than a year of experience in the department with a total of 36 officers, police said.
“I don’t think it’s necessarily better police work,” Vogt said. “People who get caught are just being stupid. They’ll smoke pot with their door halfway open.”