By Mary K. Schaffer September 25, 2012
UT had the highest number of reported alcohol-related incidents during school days of the fall 2011 semester of four public Texas universities, according to campus police crime logs for each university.
UT police reported 102 cases, while Texas State University had 63, Texas A&M University had 35 and Texas Tech University had 28. The cases include charges of consumption of alcohol by a minor, public intoxication, driving under the influence, driving while intoxicated, possession of alcohol by a minor and open container.
UT Police Department Chief Robert Dahlstrom said UT’s higher number of cases depends, among a “myriad of factors,”on UT’s larger total enrollment. In fall 2011, UT’s total enrollment was 51,112 students, while Texas State’s was 34,113, Texas Tech’s was 32,327 and Texas A&M’s was 49,861.
“This year we have such a large class,” Dahlstrom said. “The numbers of cases will definitely fluctuate again because of class size.”
Dahlstrom also said home football games contribute to the number of alcohol-related cases on campus.
“We make a lot of arrests around the stadium,” Dahlstrom said. “A home game is certainly going to affect how many arrests we make that night.”
Lt. Allan Baron, an officer in the Texas A&M Police Department crime prevention unit, said tailgating on game days can cause higher numbers of alcohol-related arrests.
“Most pre-game and post-game activities involve tailgating, where alcohol is usually available or part of the function,” Baron said. “Also, most home games are on a Saturday, when many college students go to public establishments, parties and other social events where alcohol is typically available.”
Texas Tech Police Department Administrative Captain Stephen Hinkle said the number of alcohol-related cases in fall 2011 was not dependent on home football games but instead on the number of officers patrolling during home football games.
“Because of the higher number of law enforcement officers at each game in a confined space,” Hinkle said, “there are going to be more students caught for alcohol-related offenses.”
UTPD is taking preventive measures to decrease the number of alcohol-related incidents, Officer Darrell Halstead said.
“We have safety measures in place,” Halstead said. “Student safety is our concern.”
Such measures include an online alcohol awareness course new students must complete called AlcoholEdu, presentations to organizations and residential adviser trainings. Alcohol is not allowed on campus, except in dorms in which all residents are 21 years of age or older, according to the UT Residence Hall Manual.
Texas Tech has also implemented preventative measures, such as “Safe-Ride,” which allows students to call any taxi service if they have had too much to drink and show their student ID for a taxi ride that the university pays for. “Safe-Ride” has helped cut down on the number of DWI offenses at Texas Tech, Hinkle said.
Preventative measures at Texas A&M include providing resources at all new student orientations and conducting alcohol awareness training for students in the residence halls and for student organizations, Baron said.
Despite the preventive measures at UT, Dahlstrom said the number of alcohol-related incidents at UT has increased since 2010, in which 110 cases occurred during the entire year.
“Again, it’s class size,” Dahlstrom said.
Halstead said UT police officers do not go around trying to smell alcohol and asking if students are under 21, but “the silly things” students do when they are drunk alert officers to possible alcohol-related behavior.
“There’s always one student who drops their pants or swims in the fountain because they’ve had too much to drink,” Dahlstrom said. “We’ll get them.”
Texas State Police Department could not be reached for comment.