When Chrissy Summering, a graduate student, joined the University of South Dakota Support Team last year she had one goal — to help students who get too intoxicated during Dakota Days.
Liquor law violations saw the largest increase in the 2012-13 Jeanne Clery Report released Sept. 30 by the university. Alcohol arrests were up 96 percent from the previous year. Referrals were up 35 percent.
University Police Department Director Pete Jensen said he credits the increase in arrests related to alcohol primarily to the high turnout for last year’s D-Days.
“2012 D-Days was a lot busier, we had more reporting,” Jensen said.
He explained that the numbers included not just those from UPD, but also Vermillion Police Department and South Dakota Highway Patrol.
“Between the combinations of those three it boosted our numbers up,” Jensen said.
Student Services has made it a goal to offer educational programs to lower the numbers.
“I always have concerns about alcohol numbers,” said Kim Grieve, dean of students. “We will continue to do as much educational programming as we can to assist students in understanding alcohol and the problems that alcohol can cause.”
The Student Counseling Center offers both alcohol counseling and alcohol assessments. The residence halls offer alcohol awareness programming. Grieve also said a speaker USD hosted earlier this year brought over 1,000 students to learn about the effects of alcohol decisions.
“We are always keeping this in mind as an issue on our campus, as well as an issue across the country, and it is something to be taken very seriously,” Grieve said.
Alcohol violations do not include driving under the influence.
Summering knows that drinking can be an issue for students and encourages them to be smart about it.
“It is important for students to have fun, but someone needs to be there for them,” Summering said.
She said she wanted to help those who needed support during D-Days and did that with the support team, another of the counseling center’s projects for issues with alcohol.
The USD support team, a partnership between Sanford Health and USD, operates a team of volunteers during Dakota Days to help intoxicated people back to their homes or hotels. They also have a detox center open for those who need somewhere to stay overnight.
In the other categories on the report USD saw an increase in aggravated assaults from the previous year. Forcible sex offenses and drug offences were the same as the previous year. There was also a decrease in burglaries on campus.
Grieve said while USD is a safe university, students need to be vigilant.
“I believe USD is a very safe campus overall,” Grieve said. “That’s not to say that all of us shouldn’t be on the lookout for any strange behavior, any strange people, that we shouldn’t lock our doors, lock our cars. We should all stay very careful.”
The Clery Report is a federally mandated report that all public university’s in the U.S. have to release. It contains statistical information about crimes committed on campus and off campus.