Liquor law violations continue to climb

by Cory Weinberg and Sarah Ferris

Assistant Dean of Students Tara Pereira hopes to determine whether an increase in officer presence and house staff rounds have played a role in the recent upswing in liquor violations by collecting data on which residence halls reported the most violations and at what time.
Media Credit: Michelle Rattinger | Senior Photo Editor
Assistant Dean of Students Tara Pereira hopes to determine whether an increase in officer presence and house staff rounds have played a role in the recent upswing in liquor violations by collecting data on which residence halls reported the most violations and at what time.

Liquor law violations jumped by 40 percent so far this semester, continuing a trend this academic year of students being caught with alcohol.

The University Police Department reported 87 liquor law violations from the start of the semester to March 2, about 25 more than during the same time period last year, according to the department’s crime log. Police Chief Kevin Hay said “the majority of our cases inside residence halls come from loud noise complaints.”

Liquor law violations have been on an upward ascent in recent years, climbing by 22 percent between 2010 and 2011.

Administrators denied a connection between the jump and increased residence hall monitoring by campus police and house staff. In the fall, UPD began stationing officers in upperclassman residence halls to crack down on people piggybacking inside. In January, house staff picked up five more hours a week of patrolling duties.

“We welcome house staff that is doing floor patrols now, but it’s so new that I don’t think you can draw that conclusion at all,” Hay said.

Tim Miller, associate dean of students and head of the Center for Student Engagement, said the house proctors he oversees have not been sounding more alarms for potential liquor law violations. House staff members are required to notify UPD if they suspect illegal activity, including underage drinking.

Assistant Dean of Students Tara Pereira, who oversees the University’s judicial arm, reported that the number of students who faced liquor law violations increased by 87 percent during the same period. UPD tabulates its liquor law violations by the number of times officers were called to the scene, while the the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities tracks individual student cases.

Pereira said it was too soon to tell what factors contributed to the rise in cases, but said the office had seen fluctuating data throughout the last five years. At the end of the academic year, the office will measure which residence halls report the most liquor law violations and at what times of the night to determine whether added police presence or house staff rounds played a role, she said.

Hay said although alcohol “can be the root of a lot of serious issues,” the increased violations have not led to a spike in assaults.

“We’re trying to maintain an environment that’s conducive to learning, so that when the students who are serious about learning complain and say they can’t study, we’re going to show up and see what’s going on,” Hay said.

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