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Liquor Law Violations Fall 13 Percent in 2018

There were nearly 200 fewer liquor law violations referred for disciplinary action and a 24 percent decrease in the number of alcohol-related transports to the Health Services Primary Care Center and St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in 2018 compared to 2017, according to a campus safety report and Associate Vice President for Student Engagement and Formation Tom Mogan.

There were 1,264 liquor law violations at Boston College in 2018, compared to 1,461 in 2017 and 1,573 in 2016. The number of drug law violations also declined—from 177 violations to 139—from 2017 to 2018.

These statistics were published in accordance with the Clery Act, which requires all colleges and universities receiving federal funding to release an annual public safety report before Oct. 1 of the year. 

The report must also list statistics related to sexual assaults and other crimes committed on campus. BC’s 2018 report shows that there were three burglaries, one weapons law violation referred for disciplinary action, and one act of arson—which occurred in Duchesne Hall—on campus last year. 

The report only lists incidents that have occurred within BC’s “Clery geography,” which includes on-campus property, public property that is within or immediately adjacent to campus, and non-campus property that is owned or controlled by BC and frequently used by students for educational purposes. 

BC hasn’t implemented any changes to alcohol-related policies in terms of training, enforcement, or follow-up that might have contributed to the significant decline in liquor law violations, according to Mogan and Director of Student Conduct Corey Kelly. 

“We can certainly speak to some of the proactive steps that the university takes around alcohol that could account for that, although it’s obviously hard to know,” Kelly said. 

Data collected from BC’s AlcoholEdu survey shows that there has been a slight increase in the number of students coming to campus who self-identify as non-drinkers—which is reflective of a national trend in higher education, according to Mogan.

Mogan, who chairs an alcohol task force, said that one of the group’s main goals is to support students who choose not to drink alcohol and provide alternative activities for them, especially on Friday and Saturday nights. 

The Campus Activities Board, in particular, has worked to increase the programming offered during the weekends and during periods of the year where there might be high-risk drinking.

“One example is the ice skating event that they’ve had during St. Patrick’s Day the last couple years—that has drawn significant numbers of students,” Mogan said. “And so even our numbers from the last couple years in terms of some of the higher risk drinking weekends or days have decreased.” 

The Office of Health Promotion (OHP) is also revitalizing its “Links” program—which mostly consisted of a listserv that would send students information about non-drinking activities—into a hands-on mentoring program called “Connect.” Residential Life also offers students the opportunity to live in the drug- and alcohol-free Healthy Living Community.

In addition to the decline in violations, it is also difficult to pinpoint the exact reason behind the decrease in transports, Kelly said. Her hope, however, is that University efforts such as AlcoholEdu and other educational resources directed toward students involved in lower-level incidents are helping people make safer choices. 

When students are documented for a potential violation of the code of conduct for the first time, they have a conversation with their resident director—which Mogan said he hopes is formative for students in terms of changing their behavior and making safer choices.  

“We hope that that’s benefiting the students in the long run and then, hopefully, we’re seeing that in our in our lower numbers,” he said.

Mogan said that the decreased number of violations and transports hopefully indicate that binge-drinking culture isn’t an inevitable part of the BC student experience.

Kelly urged students to remember that, under the help-seeking policy, if students call for help in a drug- or alcohol-related situation, BC will treat it as a health and safety matter, not a conduct matter. Those seeking and receiving help will also not be subject to action through the student conduct system, although the student receiving help will still have to complete the necessary educational and counseling interventions. 

“I think it’s so important for students to just remember that their health and safety is our number one concern,” Kelly said.

Despite the number of on-campus violations, only one liquor law arrest and no drug law arrests were made at BC last year. One liquor law arrest and one drug law arrest were made in 2017.

In order to warrant an arrest, students typically have to be involved either in a high-level drug sale or some sort of dangerous or violent behavior, in addition to their alcohol or drug use, Mogan and Kelly said. 

“That might be somebody who is making serious threats or is assaulting an officer or really not leaving the police another option, essentially, to try to de-escalate [the situation] and just get them help and get them to the hospital,” Kelly said.

Although the division of Student Affairs has recently been organized, Kelly said that the changes haven’t affected the student conduct process or policies beyond the normal updates that occur year to year, Kelly said. 

With the “realignment,” the offices reporting to Mogan and Melinda Stoops were more clearly divided into two teams: Health and Wellness, and Student Engagement and Formation.

The team under Mogan—whose title has changed from dean of students to associate vice president for Student Engagement and Formation—now consists of the Office of Student Conduct, the Office of Student Involvement, the Thea Bowman AHANA and Intercultural Center, Robsham Theater, and the Office of Graduate Student Life.

The Office of Health Promotion and Student Outreach and Support Services—which were previously under Mogan—are now a part of the team under Stoops, whose title changed from associate vice president for Student Affairs to associate vice president for Student Health and Wellness. Mogan said that it makes more sense to group these office with Stoops, because she also oversees Health Services, Counseling Services, and the Women’s Center. 

“Conduct still works very closely, I would say, with all of those partners, despite not being under the same [associate vice president],” Kelly said. “We talk daily to most of those campus partners, so it’s still a very close working relationship.”

Featured Image by Ikram Ali / Heights Editor

September 16, 2019