Study ranked University second for crimes involving alcohol

Nicole Vulcan

A report published Sunday by the Chronicle of Higher Education pegged the University as having the nation’s second-highest number of alcohol-related arrests.
Trailing only Michigan State University, liquor-law violations at the University rose from 383 in 1996-97 — when the University ranked fourth — to 555 in 1997-98, according to the report.
The report ranks campus crime in several categories, including sex offenses, robbery and drug and weapons offenses, for colleges and universities with more than 5,000 students.
But the report’s findings don’t rank the rate of arrests on a per capita basis, so colleges as small as 5,000 students are rated alongside the University, which the Chronicle cites as having more than 50,000 students.
The rankings also failed to account for the size of a college’s police force. Michigan State, with 41,345 students, employs 54 police officers; the University employs 36.
Some colleges, like the 36,035-student New York University — which has no internal police force — reported no arrests at all for alcohol-related offenses during the school year.
And because of the University’s urban environment, not every person University Police officers arrest is a student, staff or faculty member. Since the University Police do not distinguish between students and nonstudents when making arrests, of the 555 alcohol-related arrests made in 1997-98, it is not clear how many were students.
The Chronicle’s report stated that “aggressive enforcement by campus police officers and tougher policies restricting campus drinking” could be responsible for increases.
University Police Sgt. Brad Herberg said a less alcohol-tolerant atmosphere around the University could have sparked more arrests in recent years.
He said that while a number of factors could have caused the increase in University arrests, the influx of many younger officers at the department, who are more plugged in to the campus drinking scene, could be one.
“We’ve been enforcing alcohol-related arrests for a number of years,” Herberg said. “And the University itself is talking about a really low tolerance for drinking itself.”
Ralph Rickgarn, a housing and residential life official, said he has seen a steady increase in violations of residence hall alcohol policy in his four years at his position. Rickgarn said there had been 952 violations in 1997-98, up from 632 in 1996-97.
The Chronicle reported that on-campus alcohol-related arrests rose 7.2 percent nationally for the 1996-97 school year. Drug-related offenses rose by 3.6 percent.