Alcohol Possession Referrals On the Rise in Residence Halls

Photo Illustration — A total of 132 underage students in residence halls have been reported for possession of alcohol so far this academic year, according to the UAPD Crime Log.

Students pass out cups of alcoholic drinks in the confines of a dorm room, careful not to make too much noise and alert the resident assistant down the hall. As the party continues and the drinks start to take effect, Carter notices the noise level growing louder and the fear of getting caught dwindles. 

“People get loud when they’re drunk,” said sophomore Carter Brooks. “Sometimes people are scared because if they get too loud, an RA comes, but normally they’re pretty safe about it, so there’s not really any fear.”

Sixty students in residence halls received conduct referrals early in September for possession of alcohol, making a total of 132 minors in residence halls reported for possession of alcohol so far this academic year, according to the UAPD Crime Log.

Last academic year, there were 99 reports of minors in possession of alcohol within the first four weeks of school, according to the UAPD Daily Crime Log. This academic year, there have been 130 reports in the same timeframe. 

Despite attempts by University Housing to curb possession in residence halls, the number of reported minors in possession of alcohol by Campus Security Authorities (CSA) has increased in the past ten years, peaking at 689 students in 2014, according to the annual Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Report released to students Sept. 27. From 2009 to 2019, the number of reports has increased by 55%.

In the past three years, over 1,300 minors have been reported for possession of alcohol, according to the 2018 Clery Report. Almost 500 minors were reported in the 2018-2019 academic year. 

CSA reports of minors in possession of alcohol are not actually reported to the police department. They are not investigated by UAPD, Capt. Gary Crain said. 

Instead of being arrested, the students receive conduct referrals.

“A conduct referral is equivalent to a report of possible student misconduct,” Greg Foster, the Outreach Coordinator for the Office of Student Standards and Conduct, said in an email. 

Students that receive conduct referrals are referred to an educational process rather than an arrest or citation to avoid any criminal proceedings, Foster said. Once the referral has been received, it is evaluated for evidence of a violation of the Code of Student Life.

Alcohol violations are assigned to a hearing officer, who then sends the student a charge letter that says the codes that are to be discussed, Foster said. 

“If the student chooses to participate in the process,” Foster said, “the hearing officer will advise the student of their rights, get to know them a little bit, and hear from the student about the incident in question. Those students found responsible are then assigned sanctions, which are intended to educate the student, repair any harm, insure the safety and well-being of the University community and make future violations by the student less likely.”

If the student chooses not to participate in the conduct referral process, a decision will be made in their absence, Foster said. 

Guidelines for sanctions for alcohol-related and drug-related violations include university censure, community service, the AlcoholEdu program, probation, suspension and expulsion, according to the UA Alcohol and Drug Sanctioning Guidelines. 

The goal of the AlcoholEdu program is to educate students about the risks of alcohol consumption through science-based research, according to AlcoholEdu. 

All University Housing residents below the age of 21 are prohibited from possessing and consuming alcohol at all times, in compliance with the law, according to the 2019-2020 Residence Hall Handbook. 

Students are found in possession upon alcohol when they enter a building and the staff notices suspicious packaging, or when there is noise in a hallway that alerts staff to a gathering, said Takama Statton-Brooks, the Director for Residence Education. 

Resident assistants that find students in possession of alcohol take the students’ identification card and file incident reports to the Office of Student Standards and Conduct, Statton-Brooks said.

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