“The data simply reinforces what we know, and that is that alcohol remains one of the most prevalent problems on this or any other college campus,” Sauls said. “And so we are going to be taking a look at this from a comprehensive standpoint.”
Sauls said the security report statistics do not reflect citations and arrests given at off-campus parties. He said he thinks that since two-thirds of students live off campus, the report is only a narrow view of the University’s drug and alcohol problem.
Department of Public Safety spokesperson Randy Young said a good portion of the arrests might be from campus visitors.
“We host an awful lot of special events here on campus — we have football games, home basketball games,” Young said. “I believe that Halloween accounts for a good portion of (the arrests).”
Young said DPS thinks the population for Halloween has been higher in recent years, which might contribute to increased arrests and referrals.
“On Halloween night, we just see a huge spike in the number of incidents involving alcohol and other substances on campus,” said Taylor Bates, Residence Hall Association president. “Every year we see multiple EMT vehicles show up at our first-year residence halls to take students who didn’t make the best decisions.”
Bates said all residence halls are supposed to offer Halloween programs this year as an alternative to going out.
Sauls said he thinks that the alcohol problem extends much further than Halloween.
“The scope of the (task force) is really much broader than a single event ... What we will be looking at, broadly defined, is how do you deal with alcohol-intense environments?” Sauls said.
Sauls said the binge drinking task force deals with outreach to campus wellness, expansion of alcohol education programs and examining revisions to the alcohol policy.
At a Board of Trustees committee meeting Wednesday, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Winston Crisp said the drinking task force is expected to submit a draft of a rewritten campus alcohol policy within a month.
Young said DPS did not crack down on alcohol and drug crime any more so than in previous years. He said it’s important to look beyond a one-year increase in order to determine change when looking at trends.
“(The increase) is certainly not in response to any specific change in our operations,” Young said.
In 2014, 29 drug arrests were carried out in dorms, compared to four alcohol arrests. Young said it is harder to mask the smell of marijuana than it is to hide drinking, which might explain those statistics.
The Department of Housing and Residential Education has enforced stricter event regulation in regards to drug and alcohol, Bates said.
“Internally the department has cracked down on certain programs that RAs are allowed to offer,” Bates said. “This year we were told we could no longer do any sort of water pong program. I don’t personally agree with that, but the decision on the department’s end was that they felt that it promotes binge drinking.”