There’s been a lot of speculation about how the reformed alcohol policies of 2007 would affect students. They were obviously more strict than the previous policies, adding a fine and a threatening call to mommy and daddy. There was a crackdown on underage drinking at the Greek Houses, and Public Safety officers were to patrol all of the residence halls to check for unruly students. Rider even brought in the cops, getting the Lawrenceville Township Police to drive around campus more often at night to make sure everything was under control.
With the release of the annual security report, it’s easy to see that Rider has been doing its job. Lawrenceville’s campus crime statistics have jumped substantially in the past two years. All of the categories that involved drinking in the report increased slightly between 2005 and 2006, following a much larger increase between 2006 and 2007. However, Westminster’s statistics either stayed the same or decreased. Although there is a significantly smaller number of students living on the Westminster campus, it seems that if there was a huge crackdown on the Lawrenceville campus, the same would be true for the other. While the revised alcohol policies came about after Gary DeVercelly Jr.’s death in May of 2007, there was also the drug-related death of Justin Warfield on the Westminster campus in October of 2007.
For the Lawrenceville campus, however, it’s easy to say that the reason the numbers are so much higher between 2006 and 2007 is because of the revised policies. It’s hard to tell from the report, however, whether the actual amount of underage drinking and parties has gone up or if the university has just started paying attention. Before the policies were put in place, students sometimes felt the university looked the other way when drinking went on, and they were wise to when Public Safety made its rounds. Now, however, the atmosphere has changed and more and more students are being fined and written up for alcohol infringements.
As for the numbers in the security report, Rider was expecting them to jump substantially after the changes to the alcohol policies, so although it looks like huge jump, it was, for the most part, expected. Also, the numbers may not truly portray the number of violations on campus because one incident may be cited in multiple violations, according to Dan Higgins, the executive director of University Communications.
Students may feel like they are being penalized for drinking, an activity college students all over the country take part in, but Public Safety officers are really only doing their job. The numbers previous to 2006 were probably not as realistic, and more information is needed to gauge whether the new statistics accurately represent the amount of drinking, dangerous or social, that happens on campus.
Written By Opinion Editor, Nadine Tester