More drinking, or better recordkeeping?

By Amy Ledig

Are more Macalester students drinking, or are they just getting caught more often?
According to the Annual Safety and Security Report released last month, either could be the case.

The number of students who received disciplinary referrals for drug and alcohol law violations rose to 157 liquor law violations in 2005, up from 103 in 2004. The security report showed 114 such violations in 2003, when there were also 53 drug referrals. There were 34 drug referrals in 2004 and 54 in 2005. None of the violations resulted in arrests.

Terry Gorman, director of safety and security, compiled the statistics for the Safety and Security report from Macalester security reports, information from the Dean of Students office and information from the police department. The report represents the criminal activity on campus from Jan. 1, 2003 to Dec. 31, 2005.

There have been questions about whether the spike in liquor law referrals was due to a crack down by campus security or to a combination of more overt behavior by students and more drinking on campus.

“I think it’s just a paradigm shift in the freshman and sophomore classes compared to the upperclassmen,” said Murray Connell ’09, a Residential Adviser (RA) on Turck 3, who has had a few busts so far this year.

“It’s happened a few times. It’s definitely not a habit, but it has happened.”

Another RA mentioned the increased number of times ambulances have been called for alcohol poisoning, suggesting more drinking is happening this year than in previous years.
“We’ve already had more transports so far this year than all of last year,” she said.
Gorman, however, attributed the jump in referrals to better tracking.
“In the past it’s been tracked by security and residential life,” he said. “We were not getting all the info.”

Methods have changed for gathering the information.

“The Dean of Students’ office is conducting all the conduct hearings,” Gorman said. “We thought it would be better to count from the Dean of Students office. I think that’s why the numbers jumped.”

“We’re not here to bust people because they’re having a beer,” Gorman said of enforcement. “What really happens is the behavior of the individual or individuals at a party tips it off… If they’re having a party with the stereo cranked up, we’re going to get called. We just write up what we see.”
While frequency of calls varies depending on the time of the year, Gorman estimated that security is called to address parties one or two times a weekend, with an occasional call during the week.
There has been some activity so far this year and referrals are being made.

“I was about to go into a party and the building manager ran in there and busted them and they got a warning,” said one first year, who asked that she not be identified by name.

She said she didn’t think that security presence on campus is excessive by any means, though.

“Sometimes when they [the security officers] travel in threes, it’s a little intimidating, but not when there’s just one,” the first-year said.

Members of the neighborhood have been taking action to curb partying and alcohol use by students. One such effort is Zero Adult Provider Project (ZAP). While they are more active by St. Thomas and Hamline, ZAP has made its presence felt in the Macalester area, busting several parties.
“It’s run by the police department. There’s an overtime team that’s coming together on the weekend to cruise the campus area. They cruise by and roll down the window. If something’s going on, they stop by to see how it’s going,” Gorman said.
Gorman said that security doesn’t get involved unless they are called or they see students with alcohol in public places.

“We don’t go looking for trouble, particularly,” he said.

Still, enforcement is important, Gorman said.

“Residence halls are for everyone to live in, not just people who want to party,” he said.