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Fewer arrests for drinking violations on campus

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Students are either drinking less alcohol on campus or are doing a better job at hiding it.

Data from the 2013 annual campus security report and annual fire safety report — the most recent one — show that fewer students were arrested or received disciplinary referrals for illegally having alcohol at Ohio State.

The most recent year with compiled data, 2012, showed 172 people were arrested on campus for alcohol law violations. Three were inside residence halls, according to the report. The same year, 1,917 people received disciplinary referrals on campus related to alcohol law violations, 1,891 of which took place in residence halls.

Student Life spokesman Dave Isaacs said he could not provide data for the 2013 school year or the start of this year because that report was the most recent one.

2011 saw 252 total arrests on campus with six taking place in residence facilities. That year, 1,955 disciplinary referrals were issued, and of those, 1,915 occurred in residence halls. All of those figures — aside from alcohol law violations in residence facilities — were down from 2010 as well. There weren’t any alcohol law violations in residence facilities in 2010.

Those numbers might seem low when the roughly 11,000 students living in residence halls at OSU are accounted for. However, they only represent the cases that made it to OSU Department of Public Safety.

University Housing complies with federal, state and municipal regulations regarding alcohol, according to the residence hall handbook. That means underage students are not allowed to have alcohol in their dorm rooms, regardless of whether containers are closed. Underage students are also not to be impaired by alcohol in dorms, even if the alcohol was consumed elsewhere. Students who are 21 and over are allowed to have and consume alcohol in residence halls, however, as long as its behind a closed door. 

But some students said they haven’t noticed the amount of alcohol decreasing in residence halls.

“Alcohol was definitely not an uncommon thing to see last year,” said Alex Sutton, a second-year in strategic communication who lived on campus last year. “I had people on my floor who would stash it in their rooms. As long as it was hidden and they were not extremely loud, it was pretty easy for them to hide.”

Sutton said she never felt like the punishments associated with underage alcohol consumption within the dorms ever dissuaded someone she knew from drinking. She said the punishment seemed fair for those she did know who were punished.

“It is never black and white as to what happens after any number of offenses,” said Aaron Moore, the hall director for the Haverfield-Nosker complex. “The primary response is always for the student’s safety and well-being, with us then addressing the behavior so that future incidents do not occur.”

Each case of underage drinking is handled on an individual level, with the circumstances surrounding policy violation taken into account. Sanctions are intended to be educational and could come in the form of an educational paper saying what was learned from the experience or wellness referral. If a student is found in violation, it will go on their student record, Moore said.

“The system is progressive, meaning if a student consistently violates the Code of Student Conduct and housing policies, the more stringent sanctions will be applied,” Moore said.

RAs are instructed to only call on outside sources for help in the case of medical emergencies. Otherwise, they are instructed to collect and dispose of the alcohol and inform the students involved that a meeting with a hearing officer, typically the hall director, will be required. University Police are only involved if the situation is deemed to require police authority. 

However, there are limits to what the RAs are able to observe. If alcohol is hidden or out of sight, the RAs cannot go looking for it within the dorm rooms. Thus, they can only respond if evidence is visible, and even then it is up to the honesty of those in violation to bring out any other alcohol to be disposed of.

“Anytime alcohol is observed coming through the front doors, staff will ask for the student to present a state ID to verify that they are of legal age,” Moore said. After this initial check, though, alcohol can be largely unknown. 

“Students are always instructed to consult with their RA or the front desk if they have a problem with a roommate and alcohol,” Moore said. “These individuals will then be followed up with and everything will be done to make sure a comfortable living environment is achieved for both parties.” 

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