FSU Among Top Colleges in On-Campus Alcohol and Drug Arrest Rates

Long associated with the “party school” tag, Frostburg State University (FSU) is seeking to shed that reputation and establish a safer campus by strictly enforcing alcohol and drug policies.

However, a recent study from Rehabs.com indicates that FSU has some of the highest rates of on-campus drug and alcohol related arrests in the nation. The school was listed as having the sixth highest rate of on-campus drug related arrests, and the 16th highest of on-campus alcohol related arrests. Overall, FSU has the 10th highest rate of on-campus drug and alcohol related arrests. The statistics were determined by calculating the number of arrests per 1000 students.

Via Rehabs.com. Full report available here.

When taken at face value, this news seems to undermine what the university is trying to accomplish. However, some suggest the high arrest rates are due to the Frostburg police force.

As Assistant Vice President of Student and Educational Services Jeff Graham explained, “The simple answer for why we’re on that list is that our police officers, in conjunction with the city police, issue a lot of citations.”

“Deterrence has a huge effect on the college drinking scene,” Graham went on to say. “There’s a lot of research out there that shows that universities that have high rates of enforcement policies have lower drinking rates, and therefore, lower rates of harm to students.” 

He added that having a strict residence life staff that works closely with the FSU police is essential to enforcing the illegal use of drugs and alcohol on-campus. Graham stressed that the primary goal of the enforcement is to reduce harm to students.

In a message to prospective parents, FSU President Jonathan Gibralter stated, “FSU will appear on poorly researched ‘lists’ that report rates of alcohol arrests, then leap to the conclusion that those statistics translate into an alcohol problem on campus. What these statistics really say is that there is a large variation in the level of enforcement from school to school and in how alcohol violations are adjudicated and reported.”

Gibralter wrote, “Research has demonstrated that universities with stronger enforcement of alcohol and drug policies have lower rates of students harmed by the consequences of high-risk drinking. Effective and consistent enforcement will continue to be a key part of FSU’s strategy in protecting our students.”

While the data may imply that FSU is a party school with an alcohol problem, FSU Police Chief Smith asserted, “The reality is quite the opposite.” She continued to say, “Our survey numbers show that our binge drinking rate is below the national average and heading down. I could point to a number of statistics that would indicate that Frostburg is probably one of the safest places to send your kids and one of the places where they are probably less likely to get involved with alcohol and the problems associated therewith.”

According to the 2012 CORE survey, FSU has a binge drinking rate of 41 percent, lower than the national average of 43 percent. FSU’s rate has decreased from 54 percent in 2006.

Graham further explained this survey by saying, “We measure the number of students who have consumed alcohol in the last 30 days. The national average for the 30 day rate is about 65 percent.” FSU’s average for the 30 day rate is also about 65 percent. This data comes from surveys completed by FSU students, such as the AlcoholEdu course.

Spencer Deakin, director of FSU’s Counseling and Psychological services, believes FSU is still a safe university. He said, “High enforcement makes [FSU] a safer and better school.”

Although the arrest rates are higher than most universities, Deakin stated, “Our student use of alcohol and the problems that come from the student use of alcohol are no bigger than at any other university.”

Enforcement has been crucial in shedding the “party school” tag that FSU has been associated with for so long. Even more importantly, enforcement helps keep students safe. Sustaining a cleaner image and a safer campus and community will depend on maintaining the university’s current policies on preventing and enforcing the illegal use of drugs and alcohol.

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