Penn may be an exception to a national trend of increasing arrest rates on American college campuses, according to a recent annual survey of college crime.
The study -- conducted by The Chronicle of Higher Education -- notes that arrests related to alcohol use at American colleges increased 24.3 percent in 1998, and arrests for drug violations rose slightly more than 11 percent.
However, the Chronicle's data on Penn shows that arrests related to drug and narcotics violations at the university actually decreased from 1997 to 1998. In 1997, there were 44 liquor law violations at Penn, while in 1998 there were only 32. And drug arrests dropped from two in 1997 to none in 1998.
University Alcohol Policy Coordinator Stephanie Ives said that the university's decreasing arrest rates might be related to the combined efforts of Penn and the University Police Department to provide alternative social activities to drinking.
"The campus has been working towards a complete cultural change," she said. "It looks like students are really taking advantage of these increased social opportunities."
University Police Deputy Chief of Investigations Thomas King agreed with Ives.
"That's obviously one of the -- if not the --main reasons, that there are viable alternatives to drinking," he said.
He noted that educational campaigns on the repercussions of drinking also seemed to be successful, explaining "there's certainly an increased awareness on the educational said of things."
Ives also credited the leadership of University President Judith Rodin and Provost Robert Barchi in addressing the presence of alcohol at Penn, calling the work to provide more diverse, non-alcohol based social activities a "top-down effort of several years."
However, the arrests studied in this report took place before last summer's overhaul of the university's alcohol policy.
With the changes instated this year, Penn offers increased social opportunities for students on weekends and has launched an educational campaign on drinking.
And, according to King, since the new policy has been implemented, he has seen even fewer arrests related to alcohol.
"It's a combination of alternatives, of education and awareness," he explained. He also noted that there has been a decrease in crimes related to alcohol, such as vandalism, aggravated assault and break-ins.
While Penn's rates decreased, the University of Wisconsin at Madison topped the nation in liquor law violations at 792 arrests, with Michigan State University coming in second with 655 arrests.
The University of California at Berkeley reported 280 drug-related arrests, the highest in the nation.
The nationwide rise in drug and alcohol related arrests marks the seventh consecutive increase in the past eight years that the study has been conducted.
In 1998, liquor law arrests grew almost seven times as fast as they did in 1997, when they rose 3.6 percent.
King, however, said that this increase could be due to increased reporting of such arrests by colleges or statistical aberrations, calling campus crime an "issue that's been highlighted and focused on lately."
A law passed by Congress in 1998 requires that colleges include crimes that take place just beyond campus when they report campus crime statistics, which some officials say could contribute to the nationwide increase.
The survey is based on the most recent campus crime data provided by 481 four-year institutions with enrollments of at least 5,000.Comments powered by Disqus
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