By Katie Zeck
Rider’s 2011 annual campus safety report, the Clery Report, has shown a substantial decrease in on-campus arrests for liquor-law violations and an increase in drug law arrests and disciplinary actions, as well as an increase in forcible sex offenses.
According to the annual Security and Fire Safety Report, arrests for liquor law violations on the Lawrenceville campus saw a 75 percent decrease, going from 57 reported arrests in 2010 to 14 in 2011. The number of on-campus disciplinary actions for liquor law violations remained consistent, rising from 269 alcohol violations to 271.
However, the number of campus disciplinary actions for liquor law violations rose significantly at Westminster Choir College (WCC). The college, which has about 900 undergraduate students, reported two alcohol violations in 2010 and 17 in 2011. There were no alcohol arrests at WCC in 2010 or 2011.
Rider’s Director of Public Safety Vickie Weaver put these noticeable increases at WCC into perspective.
“Given the smaller size of the residential population at Westminster, numbers can fluctuate from year to year,” she said. “In addition, it’s worth noting that these statistics reflect the number of individuals subject to a disciplinary action or judicial referral, not the number of alcohol-related incidents on campus. Single incidents, such as a party, can involve multiple individuals who are subject to disciplinary action or judicial referrals. In the case of WCC, while the number of individuals involved in liquor law violations was up, the total number of incidents was low.”
Arrests are defined as persons who were processed by arrest, citation or summons. Disciplinary actions and judicial referrals involve persons referred to campus officials for university disciplinary action. Not all such persons are ultimately found responsible, according to the campus safety report that was sent out by Public Safety to the entire campus community on Friday, Sept. 21.
In Weaver’s opinion, the campus is a credit to the University’s policies, programs and better decision-making among students.
“I think that both the drop in alcohol-related arrests and the relatively flat number of alcohol referrals compared to last year are an indication that our educational programs and awareness among students of the rigorous alcohol policies that have been implemented over the past five years are working,” Weaver said.
The federal law that mandates these detailed reports are published annually by colleges and universities across the country.
Students feel that the decrease in alcohol arrests may also have to do with the increased enforcement from the Lawrence Township Police Department.
“I feel like the local police officers have really cracked down on patrolling the campus on the weekends,” said junior secondary education major Marcella Scalise. “People know that they have to be more careful because it’s not just Public Safety that they could get in trouble with.”
The drug violations on the Lawrenceville campus saw an increase in 2011 as well. In 2010, there were four on-campus drug law violations; in 2011 there were 13. Similarly, in 2010 there were five drug arrests on the Lawrenceville campus while in 2011 there were 15 reported arrests.
In response to the increase of reported drug arrests and violations on the Lawrenceville campus, Weaver said that the number reflects a national growing challenge to limit drug usage on college campuses.
“The number reflects an increase in violations involving marijuana, which accounts for almost all drug violations in 2011,” Weaver said. “The increase underscores our rigorous enforcement of substance abuse policies. Every day, Rider, like other colleges and universities throughout the country, faces the growing challenge of promoting personal responsibility among students while also striving to make their campuses as safe and healthy as possible.”
Danielle Trautwein, a resident advisor (RA) in Conover Hall, felt that the increase in drug law violations was noticeable last year.
“As an RA in Conover last year, I definitely noticed that a lot of the students in the building were written up for illegal drug use,” she said. “I think that smoking these types of drugs is becoming more and more popular.”
Comparatively, Rowan University, which has an undergraduate body of about 10,000 students, also showed an increased in drug law arrests reporting 16 arrests in 2010 and 23 in 2011. Rowan’s drug law violations remained consistent with 52 in 2010 and 51 in 2011. The College of New Jersey (TCNJ), with about 6,000 undergraduate students, reported 15 drug law arrests in 2010 and 19 in 2011. TCNJ’s drug law violations also increased substantially with no reported violations in 2010 and 23 in 2011.
On-campus sex offenses increased again this year on the Lawrenceville campus. In 2010, two sex offenses were reported, while eight were reported this year.
Public Safety noted that of this number, only two offenses occurred in 2011.
TCNJ reported two forcible offenses in 2010 and one in 2011. At Rowan, there was one offense reported in 2010 and three in 2011.
Westminster went down slightly in the forcible sex offenses category, reporting no offense for 2011, compared to one that was reported last year.
Weaver said that Public Safety will continue to take allegations of sexual assault and other crimes very seriously and will work diligently with other groups on campus to ensure that students feel safe at Rider.
“All of us at Rider — Public Safety, Student Affairs, Residence Life, Greek Life and other offices across both campuses — are committed to sustaining an environment dedicated to learning and mutual respect as reflected in the University’s mission,” she said.
In order to lessen the number of reported sex offenses for next year, Public Safety plans to continue its vigilance in enforcing the student code of conduct on both campuses.
“We offer a wide variety of educational programs and services to encourage students to make informed, responsible and healthy decisions and to encourage them to come forward when they are victims of a sexual assault or other crimes,” Weaver said.
Junior popular culture music major Tiffany Morales said that while eight reported sex offenses is not good, it’s reassuring to hear about the effort Rider is making.
“It makes me feel a little better about the number of sex offenses knowing that only two actually occurred last year and that Public Safety recognizes this and is doing something about it,” she said.
In the category of alcohol, TCNJ reported 37 liquor law arrests in 2010 and 72 in 2011. Rowan saw a decrease in these arrests with 24 in 2010 and two in 2011. For liquor law violations, TCNJ reported 347 in 2010 and 317 in 2011. Rowan cited 343 in 2010 and 477 in 2011.
Overall, Weaver feels that Rider has maintained the reputation of a safe, well-protected campus.
“By viewing our 2011 Clery report results in the aggregate – for all categories and comparatively over the last few years – it appears that we are creating an ever safer environment,” she said. “I can’t emphasize enough the degree to which this is an ongoing effort and a matter of shared responsibility.”
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