DU alcohol violations down, new report says

Maggie Gates | Staff Photographer
A Duquesne public safety vehicles sits outside the Student Union on Wednesday.
Maggie Gates | Staff Photographer A Duquesne public safety vehicles sits outside the Student Union on Wednesday.
Olivia Higgins | Staff Photographer

A Duquesne public safety vehicles sits outside the Student Union on Wednesday.

Carolyn Conte | Staff Writer

Duquesne released the annual Fire and Safety report for 2015 on Sept. 26, which revealed a downward trend in student violations of liquor law. The past three years have seen a drop in overall liquor violations, yet there was a rise in violations that led to arrests and a rise in drug violations.

In 2013, the report shows there were 15 liquor law arrests on campus. While this number dropped to 10 in 2014 it rose to 11 in 2015.

The overall number of liquor violations referred for disciplinary action, in contrast, has continued to fall. There were 654 liquor violations in 2013, they dropped to 462 in 2014, and fell further this year to 358.

Duquesne Police Chief Tom Hart attributes the decrease in violations to Duquesne’s education on alcohol and because of the DU Cares program.

“We believe that students are making better choices due to educational initiatives on the problems associated with dangerous drinking behaviors,” Hart said. “Duquesne does a good job, especially during the freshman Orientation program, with providing nonalcoholic events to provide alternatives to the party scene.”

DU Cares Coordinator Daniel Gittens said he speaks to classes, floor programs, Greek organizations, freshman groups and others to curb bad decisions like underage drinking.

The second part of his solution is educational programs for violators. First, violators must attend DU Cares classes, which review how and why alcohol affects behavior, and how to promote “safety and success,” according to Gittens. For a second offense, students attend a meeting with Gittens and enroll in a reflective online program.

“We have very few people who get a third or more violation,” Gittens said. “Less than 1 percent of the students would, which is maybe 35 people.”

According to the report, four people were arrested in 2013 for possession or distribution of illegal drugs, while one was arrested in 2014 and two last year.

As for drug law violations referred for disciplinary actions, the past three years have seen steady numbers of 81, 74 and 84 on-campus offenders, respectively.

DU Cares also hosts several social events to offer an alternative to drinking for students who want to enjoy their weekends. One upcoming event is the “Murder Mystery,” a $5 live action-Clue game.

Public Safety continues to be dedicated to curbing illicit drinking.

“We will continue to work with all of our campus partners in hopes of preventing dangerous drinking behaviors,” Hart said.

Hart understands what the job entails.

“At times, Public Safety must protect students from themselves if their choices with alcohol or drugs put them at risk. Intervention may require seeking medical [and] counseling assistance, student conduct sanctions and, as a last resort, fines from the criminal justice system,” he said.

Gittens is confident in the student body to make smart choices.

“Our students are very responsible … Overall, we’re in a pretty good place,” Gittens said.