University Police officers cited 52 percent more students for drinking violations in 2003, according to recently released crime statistics.
Liquor law violations were up from 361 in 2002 to 549 in 2003, a large increase that UPD officials said was not due to stepped-up policing efforts. UPD posted crime statistics for 2003 – the last year for which full numbers are available – on its Web site (http://gwired.gwu.edu/upd) late last month.
UPD chief Dolores Stafford said her department busted almost the same number of parties in 2002 and 2003 but suggested that the average number of students at each party is increasing. UPD broke up 195 parties in 2002 and busted 216 parties in 2003.
Incidents of reported vandalism, arson and burglary were also up from 2002. Drug law violations, motor vehicle theft, larceny and forcible sex offenses were down for the second consecutive year in Foggy Bottom.
Stafford downplayed the significance of the crime statistics, saying they are deceptive because they only represent incidents that are reported.
“You can’t look at statistics and gauge how safe or dangerous campus is,” Stafford said. “(The statistics) are not an accurate reflection of what happened, but what was reported.”
The number of students referred for drug law violations decreased by 31 – the number fell to about 50, which Stafford said is a historically consistent number. GW experienced an abnormally high rate of drug offenses during 2001 and 2002, she said.
“In 2002 we had a significant amount of students who chose to smoke marijuana in their rooms,” Stafford said. “I truly believe the reason for a decrease is because of less people smoking marijuana in the residence halls. I know the (Center for Alcohol and Drug Education) did some programs, but I can’t speculate on how this worked to get back down to normal numbers.”
CADE director Brian Hamluk said he is uncertain about the effectiveness of his department’s programming. One possible explanation for the rise in liquor citations is the increase in population at GW, which welcomed its largest freshman class ever this year.
Hamluk said he was not surprised by the increase in liquor violations. Student Judicial Services penalties for underage drinking range from fines to counselor summons to expulsion from residence halls.
“The George Washington University constantly evaluates trends that take place on campus in regards to, among other things, alcohol and other drug use and plan our programs, education, and awareness activities accordingly. Programming at Colonial Inauguration, with student organizations, etc. will continue,” Hamluk wrote in an e-mail.
Students also said they were not surprised to hear about the increase in on-campus alcohol violations.
“That is the only way to relieve stress on campus, and there is easy access,” freshman Fade Adetosoye said.
Vandalism, one of the most common acts of crime in Foggy Bottom, was up from 133 in 2002 to 152 acts in 2003. This year, there have also been numerous acts of destruction, including several incidents in the new Ivory Tower residence hall.
“We are going to try to focus on this with students and encourage them to report other students damaging their or University property,” Stafford said.
Despite the ongoing vandalism problem, Stafford said UPD will stick with its plan of working with students to stop the crime.
Theft also remains a problem at GW, but Stafford said the situation is improving.
She said, “From a historical prospective, since 1998 (theft) has been between 500 and 600 per year.” In the mid 1990s, theft at GW climbed to more than 800 reported incidents per year. Stafford said UPD will continue to remind students to guard their valuables.
Sex offenses were down from 11 in 2002 to four in 2003. Stafford said she thinks that UPD and sexual assault awareness programs have helped curb this crime but pointed out that cases of sexual assault often go unreported.
“Nationally we know that sex offenses are under reported,” Stafford said. “We recognize (this) is a decrease in reported sexual assaults on campus.”
UPD offers numerous ways of anonymously reporting crimes, and Stafford said she hopes students take advantage of these opportunities. Universities that do not encourage reporting can get low, misleading statistics, she added.
“One way to reduce crime is to let people know what is happening,” Stafford said. “If students know what is happening they are more likely to use common sense in their daily activities to keep themselves safe.”