College Park recorded 155 drug arrests in '95 Figure is second-highest among major colleges in the United States

March 16, 1997|By Candus Thomson | Candus Thomson,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Jill Hudson and the New York Times News Service contributed to this article.

The University of Maryland College Park recorded 155 drug arrests in 1995, the second-highest number among major schools in the country, according to a survey that will appear in this week's edition of the Chronicle of Higher Education.

The survey covers 490 four-year colleges and universities with enrollments of more than 5,000 students that receive federal money. Maryland was one of 11 colleges in the country to have more than 100 drug arrests.

Nationally, drug arrests were up 18 percent from 1994 to 1995; Maryland reported a 17.4 percent increase over the same period.

"We had a lot of arrests because we are one of the largest campuses," said University of Maryland spokesman Roland H. King of the 33,000-student campus. "We are the equivalent of a small city."

King said the increase reflects "a lower level of tolerance [for drug use] in the student population."

Maryland has about 1,000 students living in on-campus "substance-free" housing, where drugs, alcohol and smoking are not tolerated.

"It's been extraordinarily popular. We're oversubscribed," King said.

Grass roots efforts

University of Maryland Police Capt. Richard W. Doran credits grass roots efforts with increasing awareness. He said campus police include drug education in the training of dormitory resident assistants so they can detect drugs and deal with students who use them.

The 63-officer campus police department works with agencies such as Maryland State Police, Prince George's County and Hyattsville and Greenbelt police to share information and assist when an off-campus crime leads back to College Park.

Federal law requires colleges and universities to publish annual crime reports. However, 13 percent did not file reports in 1995, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

The survey reports that there were 6,797 arrests for drug violations in 1995, up from 5,764 the previous year. Northern Arizona University, with 19,000 students, reported the largest increase with 133 drug arrests, up from 78 in 1994.

The other schools with more than 100 arrests are the Arizona State University (35,000 students, 176 arrests); San Jose State University (26,000 students, 129 arrests); the University of Michigan (38,000 students, 125 arrests); the University of Wisconsin at Madison (38,000 students, 125 arrests); the University of California at Berkeley (30,000 students, 125 arrests); Rutgers University (33,000 students, 117 arrests); the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (13,000 students, 109 arrests), and Michigan State University (40,000 students, 104 arrests).

Alcohol a bigger problem

While the survey highlights the rise in drug arrests, college health specialists said alcohol abuse posed a far greater problem. Nationally, the survey found 15,208 arrests for liquor-law violations, up from 15,027.

At the University of Maryland College Park, campus liquor-law violations went down from 84 to 69.

The survey reported increases in other crimes at the school, however.

Robberies were up from 9 in 1994 to 12 the following year, rapes were up from 3 to 5, aggravated assault cases from 14 to 15, burglaries from 186 to 240, and vehicle thefts from 57 to 75.

Weapons charges went down from 15 in 1994 to 8 in 1995, and no murders were committed on campus in 1994 or 1995.

The Chronicle of Higher Education, a weekly newspaper, notes that campus crime experts warn against using the numbers for safety comparisons. The statistics do not take into account such factors as a school's location and the quality of crime reporting.

Steve Lustig, executive director of University Health Services at the University of California at Berkeley, said, "Almost all of the sexual assaults here last year were alcohol-related."

Rutgers' model program

Dr. Robert H. Bierman, director of the Student Health Service at Rutgers, said he was unaware of any increase in drug use on campus and thought the increase in arrests resulted from aggressive enforcement. He said Rutgers' alcohol and drug programs have been regarded as models.

"Our Adaps housing program -- it stands for Alcohol and Other Drug Assistance Program for Students -- has become nationally recognized," Bierman said. "It places recovering students together in a part of a dormitory where they can support each other. People from around the country come here to study this program."

Not all the crimes involve students. At Berkeley, for example, Patrick Carroll, a captain in the campus police department, said that 90 percent to 95 percent of those arrested on drug charges by his officers were people not affiliated with the university.

"That's been the case throughout the 27 years I've been here," he said. "And most of them are not dealers. They've entered the campus for some other reason. They're usually arrested for possession of marijuana, crack-cocaine or LSD."

Pub Date: 3/16/97

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