Drug and alcohol arrests on campus rose in 2016, according to a federally mandated crime report released by the ACU Police Department in early October.
Drug arrests rose to seven in 2016 from just two in 2015, while alcohol arrests rose to 12 in 2016 from just one in 2015. This includes all enforcement actions that include arrests or citations, said ACU Police Chief Jimmy Ellison. Campus police also issued fewer referrals for alcohol violations than in previous years. Referrals are criminal incidents officers responded to but did not make an arrest or citation but instead referred to the Office of Student Life.
The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Crime Statistics Act requires campus police to make data about on-campus crime available to all students and employees, prospective students and employees and to the public.
“The Department of Education believes that as a member of a campus community, you should know what’s occurring broadly on your campus,” Ellison said, “and then more specifically if you live in a res hall, you really want to know what’s occurring in res halls on campus.”
Crime numbers can vary from year to year, Ellison said, but the increase of drug and alcohol arrests could be attributed to more consistent policies for both ACU PD officers and Residence Life staff.
“ACU police and Residence Life administration have done more training together in terms of what the laws are, and what the best procedures are,” Ellison said. “I think we’re seeing a more consistent approach as far as things being reported to the police department.”
Any call can have different factors, Ellison said, but if police can establish legal grounds for a drug or alcohol violation, they will lean towards an arrest or citation. Alcohol violations could include minors in possession of alcohol or furnishing alcohol to a minor. Clery reports do not include arrests for public intoxication or driving while intoxicated.
Ellison said the rise in numbers of violations could also be caused by national trends for alcohol and marijuana use.
“By and large, alcohol use among college-age Americans is up,” Ellison said. “College students of today look at marijuana as the new 12-pack. Many 18-25 year old Americans see no difference in marijuana use as they do alcohol use.”
The Office of Student Life has more broad policies for alcohol and drug violations. The university prohibits alcohol on campus, so even students over 21 cannot possess or consume alcohol on campus or in residences like the University Place apartments.
Mark Lewis, dean of students, said most first-time drug and alcohol violations result in conduct probation, which can last four to six months. Drug violations involving marijuana used to result in immediate suspension, but Lewis said during the time Dr. Royce Money was president of the university between 1991-2010, the practice changed.
“There are always exceptions and unique circumstances, but by-and-large the response is conduct probation,” Lewis said.
Students on conduct probation must go through training with a counselor called BASICS, or Brief Alcohol and Marijuana Screening and Intervention for College Students. Lewis said BASICS can be educational for first-time violators or it can be an intervention program for students who may have an addiction.
Students who are under 21 or students over 21 who are dependents will have a letter sent to their parents explaining the conduct probation. Conduct probation also requires students to get a faculty mentor and write a written exercise.
Although the handbook does list suspension or expulsion as a potential consequence, Lewis said that rarely happens for drug and alcohol violations.
“Very unique situations where the person’s problems are such that they’re being here is actually a risk to themselves,” Lewis said. “It’s not a ‘We’re ACU and you’re bad and you’re out of here.’ It’s that they need to take a life ‘timeout’ and just invest in wellness.”