University-issued report latest to show increase in on-campus drug violations
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University-issued report latest to show increase in on-campus drug violations

Belmont’s annual campus security report showed a higher-than-ever rate of reported on-campus drug violations in 2011, while campus liquor law violations increased and aggravated assaults dropped from year to year.

Released last week, the publicly available report reflected what other reports and figures have said in that past year – as Belmont has increased in size, the number of reported drug and alcohol violations on campus has increased disproportionately.

According to the report, campus drug violations including arrests and disciplinary referrals increased from 14 to 37 from year to year. That’s more than a two and a half increase from year to year. Six of these violations led to arrests on campus, up from two in 2010 and 2009. Thirty-one drug-related disciplinary referrals were also made in 2011, up from 12 the year before.

Liquor law violations, defined as violations relating to the “manufacture, sale, purchase, transportation, possession, or use” of alcohol, went up 24.5 percent in 2011. 76 disciplinary referrals were made last year, as opposed to 61 in 2010.

Terry White, the director of campus security, said that while the rise in rates wasn’t unexpected, it was a trend he didn’t want to happen.

“There’s more alcohol and drug violations at Belmont than I want to see,” White said.

Andrew Johnston, an assistant provost and dean of students, said there has been rise in substance use at college campuses nationwide.

“There’s a real public sense of acceptance,” Johnston said. “To think we would be free of that influence would not be realistic.”

With that in mind, Johnston said the level enforcement of the school’s Substance Free Campus Policy will not change.

“All institutions are concerned about drug and alcohol issues,” Johnston said. “Our view with that is not to throw it under the carpet.”

The university-issued report is not the first that showed a dramatic rise in drug-related violations on campus. An April report from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation saw a more than five times jump in drug violations per 1,000 students, and figures released by the Dean of Students’ this semester showed there were 27 drug violations alone during the last school year, 17 more than the combined number of drug and alcohol violations the Dean saw in 2010.

While the number of these violations spiked from year to year, both Johnston and White said this year’s report also included student incidents that would not have been mentioned in prior years.

Johnston said this is the first full year the school has reported every instance it defines as a drug or alcohol violation in the annual report, whether it violated state law or simply campus policy.

“We are convinced we should report all violations,” Johnston said. “We air to the side of full transparency.”

While White believes campus crime figures significantly risen or dropped in 2012, he said the more through disclosure the university will have will be a much more reliable showing of the state of campus crime.

“If you see the number’s go down, it’ll be because the problems are getting better,” he said.

The October report also showed:

  • More burglaries were also reported in 2011, but still didn’t reach their 2009 high of seven. Nearly all of the seven 2011 burglaries weren’t in dorms though – only one happened at a residence hall or apartment.
  • There were no aggravated assaults or vehicle thefts on campus during the reporting period. In 2010, there was an assault and two thefts. There also were no sexual offenses during the time frame.
  • One destruction/damage/vandalism of property crime that was reported as a racially-based offense. White said the offense happened during a dorm theft when the suspect wrote “KKK” in crayon on the floor. According to state standards, White said Campus Security was required to report the incident as a hate crime.

The university figures were released as required by the Jeane Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, a federal law meant to make campus crime information available to the public.

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