Every week the police logs come in from Shippensburg University Police. Sometimes there is criminal mischief, theft and robberies, but fortunately such crimes and violent acts are uncommon.
However, one can almost always count on underage drinking or public drunkenness being in the logs.
SU is known as a “dry campus.” According to page 100 of SU’s Swataney, “No person shall consume, possess or be in the presence of alcohol beverages on the campus, or in campus housing, despite his or her age.”
According to SU’s annual safety and security statistics, there were 182 liquor law arrests on campus and 111 campus disciplinary referrals in 2012. Campus disciplinary referrals mean individuals were not arrested but referred for possible campus disciplinary action.
Alcohol-related arrests were down in 2012 from 275 in 2011, but up from 177 in 2010.
Furthermore, there were 12 reports on campus for driving under the influence in 2012 and 20 reports of drunkenness the same year.
SU was recently listed second on a list for most on-campus alcohol arrests per 1,000 students by a report conducted by Rehabs.com. The report used data from the Office of Postsecondary Education from 2011, which was the highest recent year for SU for on-campus alcohol arrests.
The university recently received a $40,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board to cover the costs of an online alcohol education course for all incoming first-year students. This is among the many efforts of SU and its Connection program to combat alcohol and substance abuse.
“We think that one arrest for underage drinking or violation of liquor laws is one too many. We do know that students are under a lot of pressure to drink,” said Peter Gigliotti, executive director for university communications and marketing at SU.
“Students are a lot of times coming to us already having experience with drinking so it’s not unusual and it wouldn’t be unexpected to think that liquor law violations would occur on campus.”
Gigliotti went on to point out all the ways students can enjoy college life without drinking, doing drugs or getting into trouble.
“The university has a long history of providing services to students who need help because they have problems with different kinds of substances,” Gigliotti said.
“We provide a lot of alternative programming that provides students with the opportunity to do something other than go out drinking.”
Chief of SU Police Cytha Grissom pointed out that statistics could be misleading as a lot of the actual drinking occurs off campus.
“The arrests may have occurred on campus, but that does not mean the drinking is occurring on campus. A lot of times we have students who go off campus and drink and come back to campus and cause problems. That’s when they come to our attention,” Grissom said.
Ultimately, students are responsible for themselves and can get help from the university if they have a drug or alcohol problem.
Until SU students drink less and drink safer, state, local and campus police are obligated to do their jobs and enforce laws.
“If you’re 18 years old and you’re coming to school here, you’re considered an adult so it’s your choice,” Grissom said.
“If you make that choice to drink underage, then there are consequences that go with that choice.”