The number of students cited for alcohol-related violations has nearly doubled this September compared to last year, while the number of Student Judicial Services sanctions for alcohol has decreased from 93 to 13, according to University Police Department and SJS statistics.
Twenty-four students were written up for alcohol-related violations last September while 45 students were written up by the University Police Department in this year’s first month of school, University Police Chief Delores Stafford said.
The number of alcohol hospitalizations also increased this year with 47 students being sent to the hospital this September compared to 32 last September.
Woolfson said many students are receiving warning letters this year and the new medical amnesty program in place may explain why more students were hospitalized and cited, and fewer received SJS violations.
“Not everyone who gets documented on a police report gets charged with a violation,” Woolfson said. “And many students are receiving medical amnesty this year.”
Last year, the University changed its medical amnesty policy to allow students with no University judicial record to be exempt from SJS sanctions for a first-time offense.
Woolfson said the University is reviewing the statistics to identify more trends.
“(The trends) are something that SJS looks at, but we are just now looking at the trends for the first month of school,” she said.
“We don’t want to make assumptions too quickly about causes, but we are constantly evaluating what is in the best interest of the students,” she said.
An overhaul of the Community Living and Learning Center this year changed the role of student staffers so that Community Facilitators no longer have the authority to issue written violations to residents. This year, House Proctors, Mentors and Scholars live in residence halls, but do not issue alcohol violations to students.
Director of Residential Life and Education James Kohl said the University coordinated UPD coverage of residence halls prior to the school year starting and said the plan “is a good one and works.”
Kohl said it is too early to tell if the restructuring of the student staff roles caused the change in alcohol violations.
“Supervision in the houses is greater than it ever has been in the past. For example, there are two (Community Directors) in the houses in Thurston, and house staff can be more connected to the pulse of the houses because students are being more open and honest in their interactions with house staff,” Kohl wrote in an e-mail.
He added that the new structure allows for closer relationships between GW Housing Programs staffers, so they can better guide students on appropriate behavior.
According to the Residential Community Conduct Guidelines and Administrative policies for the 2006 and 2007 academic year, the minimum sanctions for first-time alcohol offenders is a $50 fine and required participation in an alcohol education program. Second-time offenders are given a $100 fine and required assessment by a certified service at the students expense, and third time offenders must have a conference with the Dean of Students or a designee to determine if they will remain at the University.
UPD Chief Dolores Stafford said she is also unsure why there is a change in the number of alcohol violations this year.
“We are not certain why the number of liquor law violations has increased this year, as our general enforcement procedures have remained the same,” she wrote in an e-mail.
“This year we are in some halls more and other halls less and that would have an effect on the numbers,” she said. “But that is speculation about one possible reason why.”
-Kaitlyn Jahrling contributed to this report.