The Daily Gamecock

On-campus disciplinary actions for drug, alcohol violations see inexplicable jump

Officials can’t pinpoint cause behind 2009-2010 increases

The USC Division of Law Enforcement and Safety’s annual security and fire safety report has raised questions that USC officials can’t fully explain.

The biggest: Why was there a precipitous drop in disciplinary actions for liquor and drug violations between 2008 and 2009 and a huge increase in 2010?

On-campus disciplinary actions for drug law violations decreased from 129 to 76 between 2008 and 2009, but jumped to 201 in 2010. On-campus disciplinary actions for liquor law violations, including beer violations, declined from 751 to 498 between 2008 and 2009, but the next year they spiked to 854.

In the more specific category for residence hall disciplinary actions, a similar trend was seen in 2009. Disciplinary actions for drug law violations in dormitories decreased from 98 to 66 between 2008 and 2009, and then shot to 166 in 2010. Disciplinary actions for liquor law violations in dormitories plummeted more than 200 from 643 to 433 from 2008 to 2009, yet they increased to 690 in 2010.

Jerry Brewer, associate vice president for student affairs, said he couldn’t explain the numbers, and suggested 2009 was an outlier year. Andy Fink, director of residence life, said he was “perplexed” by them, and

Capt. Eric Grabski, of the Division of Law Enforcement and Safety, also couldn’t pinpoint a reason.  

Alisa Cooney, director of Judicial Affairs and chair of the Behavioral Intervention Team, was equally stumped. Cooney corrected the original data on the annual report after The Daily Gamecock pointed out a discrepancy, but the reasoning behind the 2009 drop and 2010 increase was still elusive.

The arrest data is split on whether USC police relied more on arrests in 2009 than more merciful disciplinary referrals. On-campus arrests for liquor violations tripled from 10 to 30 between 2008 and 2009 as disciplinary actions decreased, and then arrests dropped to 21 in 2010 as disciplinary actions increased.

But on-campus arrests for drug violations decreased from 52 to 28 between 2008 and 2009 as disciplinary actions also decreased, indicating that enforcement was being softened overall.

Grabski said USCPD had not changed its enforcement levels in the past three years. He added the individual officers have discretion in whether to arrest or refer students, but USCPD has not tried to influence their individual decisions.

Both Cooney and Fink said the increase in disciplinary actions for drug and alcohol violations from 2009 to 2010 could be explained by data from the 2010 CORE Alcohol & Drug Survey.The survey, conducted in Spring 2010, shows that 80 percent of male students surveyed had used alcohol in the past month and 35 percent had used marijuana.

About 75 percent of females had used alcohol in that same period and 19 percent had used marijuana. About half of the 1,205 students surveyed were freshmen under 21.

“Marijuana use among students is increasing pretty significantly,” Fink said.

Fink also said there were increased problems with alcohol in 2010 due to students “pregaming” with the popular energy-alcohol fusion drink Four Loko.

Officials did not provide CORE data for previous years Tuesday. Fink said the same policies regarding drugs have been in place for the past three years, and that there have been increased anti-substance abuse seminars by USCPD and alcohol-free activities offered by University Housing.