Throughout the semester, the Castleton State College student body has been criticized for their weekend antics in town. The complaints and verbal warnings have piled too high and now the college and local officials have teamed up to crack down on underage drinking.
“We cannot and will not tolerate that kind of behavior,” said Castleton State College President Dave Wolk.
Wolk is so adamant about this statement that he along with college deans Scott Dikeman and Dennis Proulx, and Public Safety Director Robert Godlewski recently met with Town Manager Charles Jacien, Select Board Chairman, Thomas Ettori and Police Chief Bruce Sherwin to discuss resolutions to the recent weekend chaos.
“We agreed to do what we can, within the limited jurisdiction of the college, to help solve the problem,” said Wolk. “We asked the town to offer late night police coverage that is not now currently available, and we offered to subsidize that cost with an investment of $5,000.”
Sherwin hopes this increased police force will send the clear message that the disrespectful behavior that has been exhibited thus far this year is not acceptable. Castleton has always had a zero tolerance policy when it comes to underage drinking and Sherwin claims that despite the tighter enforcement, students must still show signs of intoxication to be stopped.
“We don’t just arbitrarily pick on students,” Sherwin said.
But some students beg to differ and feel the police are targeting students who don’t seem drunk.
Sophomore Sean Collins recalled his recent run-in with police that landed him a court diversion. He claims he was running through campus after a friend and came to a stop at the Fine Arts Center, before deciding to turn around and walk back toward Elm Street. When he stopped to tie his shoe he was approached by two officers.
“I was kind of targeted,” Collins said. “There was no reason for them to go down that road.”
Collins said he was simply running when spotted by police and said he didn’t show signs of intoxication.
“I didn’t stumble or slur my speech,” he said.
Even students attempting to utilize Castleton’s own Safe Ride accommodations are not spared from the increased enforcement.
According to Safe Ride driver, Michael Shalginewicz,a group of CSC students on Nov. 3 made a call to Safe Ride after a party along Route 4 had just been busted. The students ran across the street when Shalginewicz arrived andwere stopped by a passing officer as they were getting into the van. The students were questioned, given a Breathalyzer test, and all but one were found to be over the limit and therefore received diversions.
But while students find it odd that police are stopping them for doing the right thing and not driving after drinking, Shalginewicz, the college’s Student Government Association president, didn’t criticize police.
“Safe Ride isn’t immune to any laws, so the students inside aren’t immune to the laws either,” Shalginewicz said.
Shalginewicz supports Sherwin and the department’s right to pull over anyone behaving suspiciously. That said, he added that the incident has him feeling uneasy about the current position on Safe Ride.
“We don’t want this to discourage the use of Safe Ride,” he said.
Sherwin said he does not take pleasure in cracking down on students and claims he is not entirely against partying, but more so the behaviors that go with it.
“We are looking for a respectful atmosphere for everybody,” Sherwin said.
Collins, while sympathetic to the residents who have been victims of the disruption and vandalism, takes a harder stand.
“We’re on a college campus, drinking should be expected,” he said, “Especially when it’s not even a dry campus.”