A recent surge in on-campus drug and alcohol law violations is a result of new reporting policies, rather than an increase in student drug use, University officials say.
On Sept. 30, Duke released its 2012 Clery Security Report—a campus safety report that universities are required by federal law to publish annually. According to the report, on-campus drug law violations more than tripled, and alcohol law violations increased by nearly 40 percent from 2010 to 2011. The increase is a result of several factors, including the implementation of a new information system and heightened staff training, wrote Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations, in an email Monday.
“I don’t believe [the report] is a reflection in the increase in actual behavior but an improvement in the ability to track and identify those behaviors,” said Kyle Cavanaugh, vice president for administration.
At Duke, 626 on-campus alcohol law violations were referred for disciplinary action in 2011, an upswing from 452 in 2010 and 423 in 2009. Additionally, 110 drug law violations were reported in 2011, compared to 34 and 36 in 2010 and 2009, respectively.
The higher number of reported violations can be sourced to enhanced clarity in communication with the Duke University Police Department as well as a clearer definition of reporting criteria—not increased student use—Dean of Students Sue Wasiolek added.
The latest Clery Report, produced under the new information system, will serve as a baseline for future reports, Wasiolek said. As a result, it is difficult to compare the 2011 statistics with years prior, she said.
“There was a clearer understanding of what needed to be reported and when [those violations] needed to be reported,” she said.
For the past couple of years, training for residential staff has become more “hands on,” in that staff members are required to complete more practice reporting, Dean for Residential Life Joe Gonzalez said, noting, however, that there are numerous reasons for the influx of reported violations.
Beginning in August, all residential staff members were required to complete training on the Clery Act, something that was not offered in previous years. The training established their role as reporters under the federal act, Gonzalez noted. But this training would not have impacted the most recent Clery Report, which reflects 2011 data.
Gonzalez noted that an additional factor contributing to the increased number of individual violations is that more large parties were reported in 2011.
“It’s something that wasn’t too common five or six years ago,” Gonzalez said.
Although the increase in alcohol violations does not necessarily correlate to an increase in alcohol use, the report perhaps shines some light on the use of marijuana, wrote Stephen Bryan, associate dean of students and director of the Office of Student Conduct, in an email Monday.
“Regarding drug referrals, I do believe we are seeing an increase in use, particularly with marijuana,” he said, noting that the observation is anecdotal, not based in statistics.
Wasiolek added that feedback garnered from both resident assistants and staff members has led to a more comprehensive reporting system.
Cavanaugh noted that investigations on off-campus facilities are likely not included in the Clery Report.
Although DUPD does not directly handle crime reports committed in off-campus residential areas, they coordinate with Duke administrators and Durham Police Department to assist students living off campus.
DUPD Chief John Dailey deferred comment to Cavanaugh.
Overall, despite the increase in violations of liquor and drug use, the report continues to reinforce the idea that Duke fosters a safe campus, Cavanaugh said, adding that the report is a good indication of where the University needs to spend more time on prevention.
“In every one of the categories [specified in the Clery Report], we have to remain vigilant to work collaboratively and try to be more proactive,” he said.