By Katie Zeck
Public Safety released Rider’s 2012 annual safety report, the Clery Report, to the entire campus community on Sept. 30.
The report shows a substantial decrease in on-campus arrests for liquor-law violations and disciplinary actions for liquor, and in on-campus drug arrests and disciplinary actions on both the Lawrenceville and Princeton campuses.
The one increase on the report was in burglaries at Westminster Choir College (WCC).
According to the annual Security and Fire Safety Report, arrests for liquor-law violations on the Lawrenceville campus saw a 43% decrease, going from 14 reported arrests in 2011 to eight in 2012. The number of on-campus disciplinary actions for liquor-law violations also dropped 23%, from 271 alcohol violations in 2011 to 208 in 2012.
At WCC, liquor-law violations saw a decrease from 17 disciplinary actions in 2011 to four in 2012. In 2010, the college — which has about375 undergraduate students and 110 graduate students — reported two alcohol violations.
There were no alcohol arrests at WCC in 2010, 2011 or 2012.
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.
In the opinion of Vickie Weaver, director of Public Safety, the report is a credit to the university’s policies and programs, and to better decision-making among students.
“We believe the decrease in alcohol violations and arrests, and drug violations and arrests, at Rider is reflective of the rigorous policies we have implemented and enforced over the past several years as well as the continuing emphasis we place on educational programs and increased vigilance,” Weaver said. “This is an ongoing effort and matter of shared responsibility. We continue to make progress in this important area.”
A federal law mandates that these detailed reports are published annually by colleges and universities across the country.
According to the 2012 Monitoring the Future Study, 81% of U.S. college students have tried alcohol at least once in their lifetime and 70% report they have been drunk. More important, perhaps, is the occurrence of binge drinking – 37% of college students report binge drinking (having consumed five or more drinks in a row at least once in the two weeks prior to completing the survey).
Students feel that Rider’s decrease in alcohol arrests may also have to do with the increased enforcement from the Lawrence Township Police Department.
The amount of arrests for off-campus incidents are not included in these figures, and the numbers non retrievable from local police.
Scott Alboum, the video technologies coordinator, believes that changes in the alcohol policy have made Rider better.
“I’ve noticed that since the alcohol policy has gotten stronger, students on campus have realized that there are real consequences for breaking those rules,” he said. “The policy in place is working, and the people who have conceived that policy did it the right way. Overall, the policy is helping students make better decisions.”
Drug violations on the Lawrenceville campus saw a decrease in 2012 as well. In 2011, there were 13 on-campus drug law violations; in 2012 there were nine. Similarly, in 2011 there were 15 drug arrests on the Lawrenceville campus while in 2012 there were four reported arrests.
However, the number of arrests for off-campus incidents are not included in these figures and are unavailable from the local police.
Weaver said that the increase of reported drug arrests and violations on the Lawrenceville campus reflects a growing national challenge to limit drug usage on college campuses.
Patrick Callahan, a senior elementary education major who was a resident advisor (RA) in West Village, felt that the decrease in alcohol violations was noticeable last year.
“I would say that working in a freshman building in the 2011-12 school year, I dealt with a lot more alcohol violations because everyone in the building is underage,” he said. “As students become upperclassmen, they have a better idea of where they could go to drink. I also think we’re seeing a lot more off-campus drinking than in the past. Especially with this new alcohol policy, I feel students are a lot more worried about getting caught on campus, so they go somewhere else, even if it could compromise their safety.”
In response to whether the lower numbers and stricter policy might entice students to drink off-campus, Weaver replied that “the efforts have heightened awareness across the university about dangers of substance abuse and underage and binge drinking and have helped students make informed decisions.”
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.
Rowan, which has an undergraduate body of about 10,000 students, also showed a decrease in drug law arrests reporting 23 arrests in 2011 and 19 in 2012. Rowan’s drug law violations showed a substantial drop from 51 in 2011 to 29 in 2012. The College of New Jersey (TCNJ), with about 6,000 undergraduate students, reported 19 drug law arrests in 2011 and 13 in 2012. TCNJ’s drug law violations dropped substantially with 23 reported violations in 2011 and 14 in 2011.