By Kayla Lemay
According to a recent study published by Business Insider, Bridgewater State University (BSU) ranks 26th in the nation for colleges with the highest alcohol arrests per 1,000 students.
Bridgewater State’s policy is that all students under 21 found to be in possession of alcohol are arrested. This policy was instituted in the 1990s, and since then, alcohol related crimes have gone down over 80 percent.
Chief of BSU Police, David Tillinghast, doesn’t believe the study is accurate.
“The high arrests numbers are not relative to Bridgewater,” he said. “It just shows that we’re serious in our efforts to curb the problem. We’re proud of our record over time.”
The reaction from students about the ranking varied. Travis Rebello, a junior majoring in math, said, “Sounds about right.”
While Rebello was not surprised by the ranking, other students had very different reactions.
“I didn’t think of BSU as a party school,” said Tina Gill, a junior math major. “You think of ‘Zoomass’ and all that, and I didn’t think it would be that high. I wouldn’t think it would be nearly that many.”
Bill Raczkowski, a senior majoring in corporate communications, is not letting the study change his opinion on BSU.
“It’s not something I’m proud of, but at the same time it’s something every college goes through,” Raczkowski said. “I’m still proud to go here.”
Faculty reactions were along the same lines, as Beth Devonshire, Director of Student Conduct, said she was not surprised by the report.
Devonshire’s job is to help, not to hurt, as evidenced by the fact that the Office of Student Conduct does not automatically charge arrested students.
Devonshire waits to charge students until she can meet with the them and hear their side of the story.
“My purpose is not punitive,” Devonshire said. “It’s really to educate people so they can make behavioral changes so they don’t keep making the same decision.”
Her concern, as well as the university’s, is student performance and safety.
“We know that when students are using drugs and alcohol, their grades are going to be lower, their involvement is going to be lower, they’re not reaching their true potential,” she said.
Devonshire explained the educational programs they offer for students charged with possession of alcohol have helped.
“Our binge-drinking rate is lower than the national average,” Devonshire said. “There are schools that don’t arrest [under 21 students] whose binge-drinking rate is higher than the national average.”
As for the results posted by Business Insider, Devonshire said, “That study is a little bit different. It doesn’t speak directly to what our policies are, because it was a nationwide study with all sorts of different colleges, state, public, private, four-year and two-year.”
Kayla Lemay is The Comment’s General Assignments Editor. Follow her on Twitter @klemay123 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.