Crackdown a part of a larger trend

The crackdown on student drinking that has been pursued by Temple’s Campus Safety Services, Philadelphia and state police this semester is not exclusive to North Philadelphia, with other similar crackdowns occurring nationwide.

According to Temple Police statistics, more than 320 students have been arrested or cited under the Student Code of Conduct this semester. The majority, 270, of those incidents occurred in the first four weekends of the semester after which CSS said it pulled back enforcement to view the effect.

However, during Homecoming weekend, campus police again patrolled near campus to curb student parties and drinking, citing 52 in a four-day span.

“We started getting reports again about behavior issues, and we also knew that it was Homecoming weekend and we were getting reports of lots of parties,” Acting Executive Director of Campus Safety Services Charlie Leone said.

A similar crackdown by Tempe, Ariz. police at Arizona State University called Operation Safe and Sober garnered national attention earlier this semester when police arrested 1,367 people in nine days in an effort to curtail drunk driving and underage drinking.

At Temple, university officials have been consistent in saying that a large part of the perceived student drinking problem stems from students at other universities coming to the blocks around Main Campus to pregame and party.

“Those from the outside do not have the same sense of community,” Leone said. “They have more anonymity, allowing opportunity for unwanted behavior.”

Pennsylvania state legislatures have also been active in cracking down on underage drinking. In October 2012, Gov. Tom Corbett signed Senate Bill 941, which amended Title 18 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, increasing fines for individuals under the legal age of 21 who purchase, consume or possess alcohol from $500 per violation to $500 for the first violation, and $1,000 thereafter.

Temple is not the only school in Philadelphia dealing with increased reports of alcohol consumption.

Crosstown neighbor Penn’s student newspaper, The Daily Pennsylvanian, ran an article in September regarding an “overall increase in disciplinary referrals for liquor violations since 2009,” which was emailed to every student at Penn as a reminder.

In Happy Valley at Penn State, more than 650 students were hospitalized due to alcohol-related issues in 2011. The average blood alcohol content of those students two years ago was .287, more than twice the legal limit allowed by the state, according to an article by the Daily Collegian, Penn State’s student newspaper.

“We are seeing increases in sexual assaults, vandalism and medical transports all related to alcohol use,” Leone said. “We are coming together as a university community working on how to reduce risks and change negative behaviors.”

Eddie Barrenechea can be reached at edward.barrenechea@temple.edu  or on Twitter @EddieB_TU.

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