Drug, alcohol-related arrests up on college campuses, study finds

Posted 10:58 a.m. Feb. 4

By Jamie Meltzer

(U-WIRE) WASHINGTON – Drug and alcohol-related arrests on campuses doubled between 1999 and 2000, according to a study released last week by the Department of Education.
Many college officials attribute the trend to a more casual attitude about drug use.

The study, based on 6,200 four-year colleges, found a 4.2 percent increase in alcohol-related arrests in 2000 compared to a .4 percent jump in 1999.

“I hate to say it, but it is part of campus subculture. No one can eradicate alcohol on campus,” said a George Washington University police officer speaking on the condition of anonymity. He could not release his name because the University Police Department (UPD) has a policy against releasing information for publication.

Overall, drug use is reported to have increased by 10.2 percent, a figure that seems to have little effect on college students.

“I don’t think drugs and alcohol are a problem,” said Kimberly Jernigan, a sophomore at Howard University. “It’s just there. There are clubs near campus. You see it. I feel like it’s more of a typical situation (than anything else).”

Sixteen murders occurred on campuses in 2000, according to the study. The Department of Education originally noted 20 in their report, but four schools denied the crimes on their campus.

This escalation in what the study lists as “non-negligent manslaughter or murder” marks a 45.5 percent increase from the year before.

In contrast to a recently released UCLA study that indicated a significant improvement in interracial relations and a strong support for homosexual rights, the Department of Education reports that the number of hate crimes rose 38 percent last year alone.

Despite the results of the survey, many students reported they feel relatively safe on their campuses.

“I don’t think we have a real big crime problem. We mostly see thefts from irresponsible individuals — students, faculty and staff who did not keep watch over their property,” said the anonymous GW police officer.

Lauren Langsner, a senior at GW, said her worst encounter with crime while at school occurred in December 2000, when she had checks stolen out of her checkbook. She did not report the crime.

“I figured no one was going to find single checks, so I called the bank and cancelled the account,” said Langsner.

Communication between university police and students seemed to be a common complaint among students. Jernigan reported that a man was shot in front of her Howard dormitory but that she was unaware of any progress in a police investigation.

“I don’t know what they are doing to catch the person,” Jernigan said.

Many colleges and universities have publicly voiced opposition to the 1998 Clery Act, which requires universities to compile crime statistics annually. Part of the reason for the resistance is the time and manpower such a task requires, but university officials also feel that the information could be misleading.

“Sometimes just because stats go up it is not always because of an increase in crime. It could show people’s willingness to come forward,” said Gary Folckemer, community-policing coordinator at American University.

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