Alyssa Cicero, Copy Editor
Nicole Kappelman, Sports Editor
At Lewis University and all colleges throughout the United States, students are celebrating a Friday night by enjoying a beer, or two, or three. And while they’re enjoying their beers, a group of students down the hall are being written up by Residence Life for some sort of a drinking infraction.According to the 2012 Campus Safety and Fire Report released by the Lewis University Police Department, there were 115 students who received disciplinary action for various liquor law violations on campus last calendar year.
The report stated that 109 of the violations were in residence halls, and the remaining were in other areas within the university’s grounds. This could include anything from students walking across campus with open alcohol in their possession to students driving on campus with open alcohol in their vehicle.
Lewis Deputy Chief of Police, Mike Zegadlo, stated that while the total number of violations included students of all ages, the majority of the referrals that resulted in disciplinary action were for underage possession or consumption of alcohol.
Out of the 115 referrals, the LUPD was responsible for 24 of them, and the remaining were documented by campus resident assistants and residence life coordinators.
Director of Residence Life Mushtaq Choudhary works extensively with the RAs and RLCs on campus to ensure they know the proper procedure to follow if they find a student violating one of the university’s alcohol policies.
“[If a student] is violating the alcohol policy, the RAs are required to report it,” Choudhary said. “Reporting basically means typing a report and sending it to [Frederick Gandy, associate director of residence life] and myself.”
The numbers of alcohol-related violations in residence halls and in other campus areas were higher than the numbers presented for calendar years 2010 and 2011, where the numbers were 93 and 100 respectively.
“There is a reason it’s higher,” Choudhary said. “If you look at the percentage of students on campus, it has continued to grow. So if your student population is growing, the numbers will grow a little with that also.”
Zegadlo added that the transition of a security department to a police department in 2012 added to the number of alcohol related violations increasing. Prior to the implementation of the police department, campus security was not able to legally make traffic stops that could have resulted in a DUI.
Zegadlo noted that last year was the first year police were on campus 24 hours a day seven days a week.
“We have police officers out on campus [who can] make traffic stops, and they’re better integrated into residence halls,” Zegadlo said. “We are better integrated into the community than we were previously.”
The 2012 number, however, is significantly lower than the numbers previous reports gave for calendar years 2008 and 2009, where there were 166 occurrences of alcohol-related violations on campus that resulted in disciplinary action each year.
Choudhary and Zegadlo both remarked that the Office of Residence Life and the LUPD are continuing the efforts to decrease the number of alcohol-related violations on campus.
“This is something we look at all the time,” Zegadlo said. “I’d like to see zero incidents. What concerns me isn’t the act of drinking, it’s the bad consequences that come from high risk drinking.”
Zegadlo said that through a “harm reduction” approach, which focuses on the negative consequences of drinking along with other campus-wide initiatives, he hopes the number of violations will decrease.
Lewis’ Student Handbook is clear in its definition of alcohol related infractions. The policy states that alcohol “can be possessed in moderation by students 21 years of age or older in private rooms in the residence halls or at university sponsored events,” where it has been approved. Students are not allowed to have alcohol elsewhere on campus without the permission of the university.
Excessive and underage drinking will continue at Lewis and other colleges, and the 2013 campus statistics will tell whether LUPD’s goals were successful.