Liquor cases sent to SJS drop, as drug cases rise

The number of liquor law violations sent to Student Judicial Services has dropped 80 percent overall since 2005, according to a recent report on crime statistics released by the University.

A total of 1,253 liquor law violations were referred to SJS in 2005 from the Foggy Bottom and Mount Vernon campuses, a number that dropped to 249 cases in 2009.

University Police Department Chief Kevin Hay attributed the decline in reported liquor law violations to a change in reporting guidelines, which Hay said make it easier to determine when a liquor law violation should be recorded and reported for University records.

Hay said liquor law violations that are referred for disciplinary action include being in possession of open containers of alcohol, being publicly intoxicated and underage drinking.

“In other words, we may have a liquor law case due to an open container that does not include intoxication. Or we may have someone who is drunk, who has no open container,” he said.

Hay declined to go into further detail on why the decrease was so large, saying he thinks it may be due to a mixture of fewer students violating liquor laws and the change in liquor law reporting regulations.

Assistant Dean of Students Tara Pereira, who leads SJS and the Center for Alcohol and other Drug Education, said University policy has changed regarding students referred to SJS for alcohol violations over the past few years. She said that four or five years ago if a student attended a party and was sober when UPD broke up the party, he or she would’ve received a “party attendee letter,” saying SJS knew the student was at a party with alcohol and that SJS wanted to check in with the student.

“I didn’t think [the letter] was necessary,” Pereira said, saying it seemed from most UPD reports that students were behaving responsibly.

The data is from UPD’s 2010 Annual Security and Fire Safety Report released this month, which is in compliance with the Clery Act, a federal law that requires all universities and colleges that participate in financial aid programs to maintain records and disclose information regarding crime on and near campus.

Similar reports by local universities were released this month and show that between 2005 and 2009, GW’s liquor law violation numbers were well above Georgetown and American universities.

A total of 3,703 liquor law cases were recorded by GW as being referred for disciplinary action, and two arrests were made for liquor violations from 2005 to 2009. During the same time period, Georgetown saw 2,949 liquor law violation cases on its main campus and no arrests. American had 1,721 cases and zero arrests for liquor law violations in those five years.

While the number of alcohol-related cases at GW referred to SJS is dropping, data indicates that drug law violations referred to SJS are on the rise.

From 2006 to 2007, the number of drug cases referred to SJS more than doubled, from 80 to 170.

Data indicates that there were 13 drug law arrests in 2008, the most in recent years. Last year, 10 arrests were made.

Despite the increase in drug law violations reported for disciplinary action, Hay said there hasn’t been new emphasis on drug enforcement.

“We handle calls as we get them, or what the officers happen to run into while on patrol,” he said.

Hay said marijuana is the most common prohibited substance UPD encounters.

Hay said Pereira reviews UPD police reports and requests reports be sent to SJS “based on severity.” Hay noted that the Metropolitan Police Department isn’t involved in that decision.

Pereira said education campaigns in recent years and changes in housing staff training may have played a role in more drug cases reported and referred to SJS.

“We have had an increase every year in the number of students who have come forward anonymously” to report drug violations, she said. Pereira said in the past, students were concerned about another student’s violation reflecting on them, or that they would be somehow implicated for the drugs.

While Pereira said alcohol is still the number one drug used on campus, she said she was still very concerned about “higher-level drugs.” She said she thinks five or six years ago there wasn’t as much shared use of drugs like Adderall.

Between 2005 and 2009, 40 arrests for drug law violations were recorded on GW’s campuses, compared to just four at Georgetown’s main campus and five at American’s main and Tenleytown campuses.

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