Many teenagers enter college thinking that rowdy house parties with a never-ending supply of booze, keggers and drinking games are rituals of student life.
Last month, more than 50 Temple students found this is not the case. And they found out the hard way.
On Oct. 26, the Liquor Control Board and Campus Police raided a “speak-easy” party at 1806 Diamond St., located just on the outskirts of Main Campus.
When the flow of alcohol dried up, 57 students were cited for underage liquor consumption.
The high-profile bust, which received local media attention from 6ABC and Philadelphia Magazine’s Daily Examiner blog, is an example of an escalating issue at Temple – more students are being cited for alcohol violations.
According to Campus Safety Service’s annual security report, the number of disciplinary actions or referrals relating to alcohol on campus property and in residence halls increased by 108.3 percent between 2005 and 2006.
A similar increase occurred in public areas in the off-campus jurisdiction of Campus Police. Last year, 196 disciplinary actions or referrals relating to alcohol were issued as opposed to 24 reported offenses in the same off-campus areas in 2005.
Capt. Robert M. Lowell of Campus Safety Services’ Investigations Unit said the spike in alcohol violations can partially be attributed to the increase in enrollment. This fall, the university welcomed 4,300 first-year students, its largest freshman class ever.
“As a result, we see these increases in percentages,” Lowell said.
To combat the issues that come with an increased enrollment, Lowell said Campus Safety Services has utilized more of its resources on the problem of alcohol on campus. He said Campus Safety Services has increased the amount of crackdowns on establishments that serve underage students liquor, in addition to more patrolling and investigations, which has led to more house party raids and fraternity and sorority shut downs.
Campus Police has reason to monitor house parties a little more closely than other possible locations where drinking may occur.
According to a recent Temple survey of 1,083 students, 68.3 percent said they consume alcohol at private parties.
“Students have to understand that attending or hosting these parties is an extremely unlawful and immoral act,” Lowell said. “As for establishments, we will continue to monitor those selling alcohol, and if discrepancies are noticed, then strict penalties and action will be strongly enforced.”
As indicated by last month’s bust, underage drinking is still a major concern for the university.
First- and second-year students have more alcohol consumption problems than third- and fourth-year students, according to the survey.
But statistics in the survey also indicate that the amount of underage drinkers hasn’t changed much in the last two years. Consumption of alcohol by students under the age of 21 increased slightly from 70.3 percent in 2005 to 70.4 percent in 2007.
Dr. Jeremy Frank, an addiction counselor at the Tuttleman Counseling Services and a senior psychologist coordinator of Campus Alcohol and Substance Awareness, said underage students attempt to use alcohol as a social lubricant. Peer pressure and a history of alcohol issues within the family are also major factors, he said.
Additionally, students thought 91.4 percent of their peers use alcohol once a week or more. Only 44.2 percent of students said they drink that frequently.
While Frank is concerned with some of the patterns in the survey results, he said larger economic factors also lend a hand in underage alcohol consumption.
“Alcohol companies spend millions of dollars on advertising, marketing, branding and availability of their products,” Frank said. “Organizations such as universities are pitted against this huge battle as they have far less budgetary resources for their work which includes education, prevention and programs introduced toward this topic of alcohol.” One of the ways Temple attempts to battle this issue is through its Alcohol and Substance Abuse Task Force, an organization formed in fall 2004 by Vice President of Student Affairs Theresa A. Powell. ASATF was designed to develop a detailed plan of action for addressing the university’s alcohol problems.
In 2003, a year before ASATF was formed, only 66.2 percent of students said they knew Temple had a drug and alcohol policy. That number has jumped to 86.8 percent in 2007.
However, statistics indicated an increase in the number of students who said they do not abide by the university’s alcohol policies and regulations.
In 2007, 19 percent of students said they chose not to follow the rules while only 8.4 percent of students said the same in 2003.
Lowell, who is a member of ASATF, said that though renewed polices are enforced to help improve the overall system, lifestyle and community standards factors into a students decision to drink.
“Alcohol is consumed due to this newfound freedom as students are [on their own] and want to control their own life by making decisions they want,” Lowell said.
In recent years, ASATF, CASA, the Division of Student Affairs, the Office of the Dean and Campus Safety Services have launched programs, such as Free Food and Fun Fridays, in a bid to draw students away from events that serve alcohol. Lowell confirmed that the number of students who attend these events has been increasing slowly but steadily.
Jason Egner, a sophomore film major, often attends these university-sponsored events.
“Without alcohol, people can do so much better with their relationships. It’s not necessary to drink to fit in,” Egner said.
“It’s essential to comprehend that alcohol at most times also works against the individuals’ motives,” he added. “In the long run, it could only do harm.”
Kunal Parekh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.