Second quarter of 2000-01 academic year sees continuing decline in number of student judicial cases
A new report released by Syracuse University’s Office of Judicial Affairs shows the number of cases handled by the University Judicial System is declining steadily, following a pattern begun early in the fall semester. Along with the overall decrease, incidents involving alcohol dropped significantly–by 41.4 percent–while cases involving other drugs, behavior of a violent or threatening nature, fire and fire safety violations, and computer tampering were on the rise. During the period from Oct. 16-Dec. 31, 2000, the University Judicial System handled 262 total cases, including 116 in which alcohol was a dominant factor, according to the second-quarter C.A.R.E. (Citizenship, Awareness, Responsibility, Ethics) Report, which is accessible in PDF format at http://students.syr.edu/judicial/ care/CARE2001second.pdf. This compares to 342 total cases and 198 alcohol-related cases during the first quarter of the current academic year (Aug. 23-Oct. 15, 2000)–a decrease of 23.4 percent and 41.4 percent, respectively, from the first quarter. Overall, the University Judicial System saw a 31.5 percent decline in case load in a comparison of the Fall 1999 (882 cases) and Fall 2000 (604) semesters. And the number of alcohol-related cases was almost halved–from 624 to 323. Anastasia L. Urtz, associate dean of student relations and director of judicial affairs, attributes the change to the implementation of new interim standard sanctions for substance abuse-related violations of the Code of Student Conduct and to programmatic efforts supported by a federal Model Programs grant from the U.S. Department of Education. “The interim standard sanctions program provides students with advance notice of the consequences of misconduct while maintaining flexibility in designing appropriate educational or remedial sanctions for individual students. Further, the financial support we have received from the U.S. Department of Education has allowed us to educate students about substance abuse issues before a negative incident occurs. We have been delighted by the decrease in misconduct and student emergencies related to alcohol since the interim implementation of this program,” Urtz says.
Fall semester programming included the mailing of a series of brochures to 3,000 new students and their parents; the “There’s More to Do at SU” social norms marketing campaign and the corresponding social and recreational activities campaign; and stress relief theme programming. The encouraging news about the drop in alcohol-related incidents is tempered by upward movement in a few other categories. Drug violations were up, with 64 drug-related cases in the second quarter. The C.A.R.E. Report offers a possible explanation. “This trend may be attributed in part to drug use becoming more readily detectable because alcohol-related activity is now at an all-time low,” the report states. “Further, as of the fall semester, 2000, all Syracuse University residence halls became smoke-free due to the implementation of the new Smoke-Free Policy. As a result of this policy, it is now easier to detect smoking violations, including those associated with drug use, in the residence halls. In addition, consistent enforcement of policies, coupled with the changing culture of incoming first-year students, has resulted in an increase in student reports that their peers are using or distributing drugs.” Marijuana remains the most prevalent drug used. The C.A.R.E. Report also notes anecdotal information, based on interviews with students, indicating an increase in Ecstasy use among students. Ecstasy doesn’t show up in the C.A.R.E. Report’s statistics because its use is more difficult to detect than that of alcohol or marijuana because Ecstasy is both colorless and odorless, and its effects are not always immediately apparent. “Thus, students using Ecstasy are not typically referred to the Office of Judicial Affairs,” the report states. Behavior involving violence and threatening conduct went up 48.1 percent from the first quarter to the second quarter (from 27 cases to 40 cases). Many of the cases involved minor physical altercations between students. Fire and safety violations also increased over the two quarters (from no cases to five cases). This pattern seems to recur every year, the report states. To combat this trend, the University’s Risk Management Safety Office and Department of Public Safety, the Syracuse Police and Fire departments, and the State Office of Fire Prevention and Control collaborated in November on demonstrations and discussions related to fire safety, traffic safety and crime prevention as part of the “Are You Watching? November is Safety Month!” campaign. The second quarter also saw a rise in violations of the University’s Computing and Electronic Communications Policy, with nine cases (up from five in the first quarter). “This report demonstrates that the vast majority of Syracuse University students are avoiding poor choices and making positive contributions to the University and surrounding community. We will continue our efforts to prevent misconduct and promote good citizenship by educating students about substance abuse and other safety and security issues,” Urtz says.