Castleton University experienced a sharp increase in liquor and drug law referrals through 2016, according to the Campus Safety and Security Report.
The report shows an overall increase of 48 percent in combined drug and liquor referrals from 2015 to 2016, individually reaching as much as 54 percent for liquor and 33 percent for drugs.
And 13 liquor related arrests were made on campus in 2016, nearly double those made in the previous year. Those numbers are dwarfed by the 302 liquor law referrals issued last year, making up almost 16 percent of the university’s full-time students.
Drug law referrals increased from 76 to 101, though there were no arrests made.
Referrals are essentially tickets students get after breaking a rule or breaching a contract. Students then have to go before Student Court where the referral is reviewed and a punishment may be decided.
Director of Public Safety Keith Molinari believes more parties are moving on-campus due to a heavier police presence in town.
“Police are really hammering down on off-campus parties,” he said.
It seems, however, that the residence halls aren’t giving party-goers a break either.
Molinari feels that residence life workers have become more serious about reporting parties, which is ultimately for their benefit.
“We’re not patrolling the hallways. They get policed by the CA’s,” he said.
“It quiets their nights. If they catch it at 10, they don’t have to worry about it at 3.”
Molinari says he’d rather they come on campus so he can have more control over the violations without police involvement. He doesn’t believe more students are drinking, but rather that the college has improved enforcement.
While the rise in referrals looks negative, the crackdown by Public Safety and the CAs could benefit both the college and the community.
“A lot of the punishments include community service, which they just go to Safe Ride for,” said Toné Sawyer, head of Safe Ride.
Despite the potential benefits, 302 is still a lot of referrals, and other students are looking to lay blame.
“If it’s going up, then the people who were here before obviously are not the problem,” said Gabrielle Coons. “It’s the incoming people that are the problem.”
Coons also pointed out that multiple houses were put on probation within the first weekend due to first-year students committing a variety of violations, including damaging property.
Along with the increase in drug and liquor offenses, there were two counts of robbery in 2016, as well as a 37 percent increase in dating violence rising to 11 reports from eight in 2015.
Not everything has been on the rise though.
Reports of stalking went down to zero last year after a total of six in 2015.
And rape has stayed about consistent from 2014 to 2016, coming down to four reports each for the last two years after five in 2014.
Burglary has also gone down from six offenses in 2015 to five last year.
The 2017 crime report won’t be released until the year is over, but Molinari believes the numbers won’t be increasing and will hopefully stay around the same as 2016.
“But I didn’t see the increase coming last year either,” he said.