Underage drinking citations down

By Joseph Longo, Staff Writer

The university released the Biennial Report on Alcohol and Other Drug Effects report on Dec. 7. The report detailed alcohol and drug related arrests and citations from July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013 and July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2014.

The report also provided included statistics and preventive measures about the university uses to combat alcohol and other drug related concerns.

According to the report there is “a general trend that an increasing number of students have serious mental health concerns — sometimes upon entering college, sometimes emerging in college. Frequently, students have mental health concerns in combination with substance-related concerns; a number of students who make suicidal statements do so when they are under the influence of alcohol or other substances.”ss

The report identified a need for broader prevention and educational efforts, a centralized administrative voice for substance-related concerns and a discussion on expanding clinical services for students in recovery.ss

However, it did not lay out immediate plans to solve the issues.

Alcohol related arrests were notable down in the past year. The University of Illinois Police Department issued 86 arrests in 2013-2014 as opposed to 131 in 2012-2013.ss

However, Pat Wade, UIPD spokesman, said the differing numbers are circumstantial. Wade said the majority of alcohol-related arrests are made on Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day, typically held in the first week of March.

“Last year, it was really cold so not a lot of people were out, so we made fewer arrests. It depends on the weather too,” he said.

Wade does not encourage reading too heavily into the statistical numbers, as drug and alcohol use at the University stays relatively unchanged.

“There are things that contribute to those numbers, and they rise and fall given the year,” Wade said. “Generally our philosophy on alcohol enforcement and education stays the same from year to year.”

The UIPD focuses on education before enforcement when dealing with alcohol and drug-related offenses. Wade said in 2014 the UIPD issued 147 citations, but for a campus known for its active social scene, he sees this as a low percentage of enforcement.

According to the report, participation in the Alcohol Culture Explained Interactive Theater, or ACE IT, program mandated for all first-year and transfer students increased to 7,011 participants in 2013-2014. In 2013-2014 6,738 students participated.

“We try to give students the tools and information they need to make the right decisions, as opposed to punishing someone as soon as we find out they’re drinking,” Wade said.

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