Due to a new tracking system, alcohol referrals in resident halls increased substantially from 188 incidents in 2010 to 808 in 2011, according to statistics released by the CSU Police Department this September.
But that doesn’t mean more students are being caught drinking in the dorms.
The 430 percent increase is because Conflict Resolution and Student Conduct Services (CRSCS) now tracks not only meetings it has with students, but meetings residence halls have with students as well.
In residence halls, 728 meetings were conducted with students who violated alcohol policies, while 144 were conducted by CRSCS. Sixty-four cases overlapped.
Director of Residence Life Laura Giles found the overall number of alcohol citations for 2011 to be similar to previous years, noting that the numbers may be more accurate thanks to the modern tracking system.
“If nothing else, we have better numbers because we have a system that is more current,” Giles said.
Giles said that residence hall meetings closely follow guidelines set by CRSCS and the supervision of its staff to ensure students are on track to change their ways.
Hearings held by residence halls normally deal with what Giles calls low-level cases.
“What we deem as low level is a student walking in a hallway with beer in their hand,” Giles said.
Hearings with residence hall directors occur after a Resident Assistant (R.A.) makes contact with a student in possession of alcohol. The R.A. then submits a report to the resident director of the hall, who then has a hearing with the student.
With 728 hearings held in resident halls, CSUPD Chief Wendy Rich-Goldschmidt finds the job of the R.A. to be challenging when dealing with things such as alcohol violations.
“It is a difficult job. It is a tough situation to be in,” Rich-Goldschmidt said.
An R.A., who spoke on the condition of anonymity, agreed.
“It is more appropriate for the (police department) to contact students about alcohol and drugs because we do live here in the halls and these situations can become awkward, so it is even better when the police can step in and help,” the R.A. said.
To facilitate this, CSUPD implemented what’s referred to as the liaison program, in which officers are assigned to specific residence halls, according to CSUPD Cpl. Ramsey Crochet.
“The liaison program happens at multiple levels,” Giles said. “Police officers are assigned residential halls and develop a relationship with the director of each hall, the R.A.’s and students. They serve as a resource if staff is having a hard time answering questions from students, officers can help.”
Crochet put it differently.
“While the relationship has always been good, the assignment of one officer as a liaison to each residence hall has created partnerships where housing staff and officers collaborate in problem solving efforts, crime prevention and personal safety presentations, and alcohol and drug education training, and made an already good relationship better,” he said.
When police contact is made with a student violating alcohol policy in resident halls, they may assist in resolving problems, writing a citation for a student or referring them to Conflict Resolution and Student Conduct Services, depending on the situation.
“It is the police’s own discretion,” Giles said.
Regardless, education is of great importance for CSUPD, residence halls and CRSCS staff.
“In an effort to redirect and educate students, one of the first steps in dealing with an alcohol or minor drug contact is a CSUSA (CSU Scholarship Application) citation and referral to Student Conduct where the student is afforded resources available on campus dedicated to changing their behavior and use of alcohol/drugs,” Crochet wrote in an email to the Collegian.
CRSCS Director Craig Chesson, said the referral system is innovative in how it helps students.
“One thing that is great about our process is that it is not a cookie cutter or a strikes process,” Chesson said. “There are several options we can work with the student to decide what is best. We try to send them on a path of reform.”
According to Chesson, CSU is known as a model across the country because of all the educational options available to benefit students.
“I think the biggest thing that separates our program from others is the amount of educational programs we have focusing on student success and retention,” Chesson said. “In kicking students out we would not be addressing the issues.”