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The Daily Tar Heel

Arrests for Drugs, Alcohol on Rise at U.S. Colleges

Figures released by the U.S. Department of Education and analyzed by the Chronicle of Higher Education show a 10.2 percent increase in college drug arrests and a 4.2 percent increase in alcohol arrests from 1999 to 2000.

Pennsylvania State University topped the list with 175 on-campus drug arrests. Michigan State University reported the most alcohol-related arrests with 852.

But arrests at UNC-CH remained low -- only two alcohol arrests and eight drug arrests were made on campus in 2000.

The nationwide increase could be because of stricter reporting requirements, said Catherine Bath, program director for Security on Campus, a nonprofit organization. "Schools tend to underreport campus crime," she said. "They don't want to look bad."

According to Education Department figures, drug and alcohol arrests at UNC-CH in 2000 decreased from 22 alcohol arrests and 24 drug arrests in 1999.

Derek Poarch, UNC-CH director of public safety, said the 1999 numbers included both citations and arrests. Figures for arrests only were not available.

Poarch said he doesn't know why alcohol and drug arrests were lower at UNC-CH than at other schools, but he noted that students often receive citations instead of being arrested.

Drug and alcohol arrests at other UNC-system schools showed no clear trend. Paul Lester, lieutenant in charge of criminal investigations at UNC-Greensboro, said crime statistics don't always reflect reality. Jon Barnwell, sergeant in charge of crime prevention at N.C. State University, said schools have varying policies relating to substance use on campus and law enforcement strategies. But officers from UNC-CH, UNC-G and N.C. State all emphasize that higher arrest numbers do not indicate increased substance use.

Barnwell said, "It's been staying about the same."

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