The Department of Public Safety’s annual security and fire safety report indicates that disciplinary referrals for drugs and alcohol jumped in the past year.
There were 1,002 referrals for alcohol misconduct in 2011, a jump from 866 in 2010 and 805 in 2009. Also on the rise were liquor-related arrests. In 2009, there were five arrests for liquor law violations. In 2010, that number doubled. A year later, it increased to 17 arrests.
Drug arrests have also continued to quickly rise. There were 24 more arrests in 2011 when compared to 2010, causing the overall number of arrests to increase to 61 from 37.
With the number of write-ups last year, many believe the newly revamped drug and alcohol policy will be an effective way to combat the growth in violations.
“The updated alcohol policy is just one part of a comprehensive approach to addressing alcohol on campus,” DPS Capt. Russell Shaw said.
Erin Lazzar, assistant dean of students, indicated that the additions to the policy have nothing to do with the data from 2011.
“The new policy did not go into effect until August 2012, so it would have had no impact on the numbers for calendar year 2011,” Lazzar said.
Shaw also noted that the rise in numbers could come from more people using illegal substances when compared to previous years.
“Alcohol and drug use is an issue on campuses across the country,” Shaw said. “It’s hard to speculate why the arrests increased, but possible reasons include more attentive residence hall staff as well as more of a willingness to report on the part of staff and students. Public safety responds whenever we receive information that leads us to reasonably suspect illegal drug or alcohol use.”
However, Lazzar did not notice much of a difference between years regarding the alcohol spike.
“There was nothing unusual,” Lazzar said. ”No changes in the environment or the community that I am aware of that led to the spike.”
Kelly Watts, a freshman in the College of Communication, remains fairly neutral on the implementation of a revision to the alcohol policy.
“The idea of adding to the drug and alcohol policy is pretty smart, but I think drinking is going to happen no matter what,” Watts said.
The report ends with a statement on Wisconsin’s drug and alcohol laws, indicating that those who are 21 or older and are responsible for underage drinkers on their premises may be given a $500 fine for a first time offense. The penalties for a drug violation vary upon the severity of the crime.
“The bottom line is underage drinking and illegal drug use is against the law,” Shaw said.
Another crime on the rise has been sexual offenses. In 2009, there were two reported offenses, but that number went up to three in 2010, and in 2011, it rose to nine. Also, from 2010 to 2011, aggravated assault numbers increased from one to four.
While most crimes have increased throughout the past three years, burglaries around campus have gone down substantially. The numbers peaked in 2010 at 36 but lowered to 11 in 2011.