By Jesse Lewis
CHRIS CODUTO/Arizona Summer Wildcat
A Tucson Police officer writes a citation for underage drinking during the first week of September at the Jefferson at Star Ranch apartment complex. The operation resulted in 125 arrests for underage drinking.
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, July 28, 2004
UAPD made 218 liquor violation arrests and 243 drug violation arrests in 2003, according to its Web site.
Of these, 60 alcohol violation arrests and 63 drug violation arrests were made in the residence halls.
Coronado Residence Hall topped the charts in both categories, with 19 alcohol and 11 drug arrests. Forty-four percent of the halls had no alcohol-related citations; 40 percent had no arrests due to alcohol.
UAPD spokesperson Sergeant Eugene Mejia said the high incidence of arrest is due to the fact that new students generally don't know the rules or think they won't be caught.
But if students choose to act illegally in their rooms, it's difficult to avoid a run-in with the police.
"If they smoke marijuana in their dorm rooms, there's no way to get rid of that smell," Mejia said.
Incoming freshmen are adjusting to life away from home and need to know that they are in a different environment and need to be responsible.
UAPD can't make students stay out of trouble, but it can inform them about the consequences.
"We have to educate them and hope they were paying attention," Mejia said.
If a student is apprehended for an alcohol or drug violation by UAPD, he or she may face a diversion program on the first offense, including mandatory community service hours and various fines associated with the incident.
Residence Life has its own way of handling incidents that take place inside a residence hall.
The punishment a resident faces depends on the situation, said Jenny Tait, conduct coordinator for Residence Life.
In the event of an alcohol violation, the resident must attend a SHADE class to learn about the effects of alcohol on the body. The program includes a $25 fine and probation.
On the second offense, the resident must complete an educational assignment determined by his or her hall director, but eviction is deferred.
If a resident is caught a third time, he or she is evicted.
If, on the other hand, a resident is caught using drugs, he or she is immediately evicted.
However, if the incident is only drug possession, and there is no evidence of the student ingesting the drug, he or she faces the same punishment as with an alcohol conviction.
Students must act as responsibly as possible when facing difficult situations, such as drinking under age.
"If all they want to do is protect themselves, all they have to do is stay away from alcohol and drugs," Mejia said.
However, students may choose to travel to Mexico to drink legally at age 18 and circumvent U.S. law. In this case, Mejia suggests that students take extra precautions when traveling out of the country.
There is safety in numbers and each group that travels must have a designated driver who does not drink and watches over the rest of the group, Mejia advised.
"That person absolutely rules what they do and where they go and only they drive," Mejia said.
Lindsay Weddle, an architecture alumna, says that she doesn't think that UAPD is out to get students and that without campus police, the UA would not be as safe.
"I think they are here to do some good; they aren't intrusive. Cops are necessary."
Weddle also appreciates that police look out for students at night.
"I was walking at night and I was close to my destination and a cop pulled over and asked if I needed an escort," she said.
Though the offer came a little late, she was appreciative that police were there to monitor her safety.
After drug- and alcohol-related incidents are accounted for, the number of criminal violations on campus appears much lower.
To prevent theft from being an issue, Mejia advises students to lock their doors and windows and not to leave laptops unattended at the library for any period of time.
Bike theft is a large issue at the UA because Tucson is one of the top five bicycling communities in the nation.
"If they want to steal a bike to sell for their drug addiction, they know if they come here they have access to over 10,000 bikes," Mejia said.
He advises securing your bike with a strong lock through the tires, frame and bike rack.
The rate of violent crime at the university is very low. However, Mejia cautions against deriving a false sense of security from such numbers. He advises that students travel in numbers, park in well-lit areas and use the Safe Ride shuttle service.
If it is too late for Safe Ride, which stops service at 1 a.m., call UAPD and dispatch will send an officer to transport you.
Students are generally happy with the police on campus, and without them the campus would be lacking.
"I think they are a necessary part of campus, because it's such a big campus, but I've never had any experience personally," said Brandon Clay, media arts senior.
Mejia said that the campus is what students make of it; it can be as safe as students want it to be. If a student suspects something out of the ordinary or sees someone suspicious, he or she should call the police. It may help catch a criminal in the act or prevent a crime from happening.
"Even though we are paid to do what we do, without (students') participation, it is much more difficult to do it alone," Mejia said.