By James Evans
According to the most recent Clery Act report, alcohol and drug violations are up this past academic year. When these violations are weighted against the increase in the student body population, these numbers are much higher than in recent years.
The Clery numbers are for a calendar year, not an academic one. Therefore, the 2017 report is for the spring and fall of 2016, despite them not being in the same academic year.
“From my own records, which measures the past academic year more precisely [than the Clery Report],” said assistant dean of student campus life and conduct, Jen Bunting. “Drinking violations were actually down. However, our marijuana numbers were up.”
In the past few years, with the national legislation efforts, marijuana use in America has been on the rise precipitously. It has become both cheaper and more accessible for students.
It is likely a contributing factor in the rise of violations on campus. There has been a shift in the culture that marijuana is deemed “acceptable.” Across the country it is being legalized for medical purposes, decriminalized locally in areas like Philadelphia, but it is still federally illegal.
“Marijuana use and a lack of motivation can have a correlation, which, in turn, can affect grades,” said Bunting. “So we try to work with our students by having them attend a drug and alcohol session locally, give them recommendations for counseling and even link them with the Career Development Center.”
The ages of 18 to 22 can be quite difficult, college or no college. And because of those difficulties, many people try to self-medicate.
“Here at DeSales,” said Bunting. “We try to quell the anxieties and troubles many students face regarding classes, career prospects, etc. by providing counseling and direction at the Career Development Center.”
Another concern nationally is the rise of opioid use. Recently [PACE] brought in a presenter who is a mother that lost a child to this growing epidemic to inform students of its dangers. While marijuana and alcohol use are often easy to spot, prescription drug abuse is harder to prevent . In order to keep these addictions to a minimum, DeSales faculty is remaining vigilant and working with our student leaders to keep DeSales safe.
“As an administration, we put the health and safety of our students above any disciplinary goals,” said Bunting. “That takes precedence. We want our students to be safe, first and foremost, far above any punishment that might take place.”
Using the amnesty policy, which gives immunity from alcohol violations when there is a medical emergency, is one-way DeSales puts safety over punishment. However, calling amnesty can be a daunting task for an 18 to 22-year-old student, who may be in alcohol related crisis. Despite this, the violations from a drug or alcohol related incident are much more minute when compared to the dangers that could potentially happen.
“The biggest thing I tell students is to make good, safe, healthy choices,” said Bunting. “Whatever you choose to consume, we need our students to have the knowledge and information about it. If one is in the situation where their friend needs help, one needs to make sure that they are reaching out. The lasting message I would convey is simple: Take care of one another out there.”