Alcohol-related Offenses Decrease After Policy Change

Ramapo College recently released its annual security report, which showed a significant decrease in alcohol-related offenses. The report lists incidences that occurred on campus for the past three years. 

The most recent report showed that liquor law violation arrests have decreased from 12 arrests, to 7, to 2 from 2010-2012 respectively.  Disciplinary referrals from liquor law violations have also declined from 783 to 592 to 397 in the same years. 

"I think the decrease is most likely due to students being fearful of receiving hefty alcohol violation fines ever since the administration raised the fines in 2010," said junior Jeremy Higgins.

According to the College's website, the first offense for an alcohol violation is a $200 fine, attendance at Checkpoint (an alcohol education program) or completion of Innerview (an online alcohol education program) and possible parental notification.  Subsequent offenses result in larger fines, community service, counseling, suspension of housing, and finally, by the fourth offense, suspension results.

Sophomore Rob Shalikar disagrees with the penalties.

"I do not believe that $200 is reasonable for a first offense. Schools like Rutgers, Penn State, Princeton, Elon University, etc., do not care at all that students have parties, drink, stay up past 10 p.m. These are schools that have much larger reputations, and have a lot more to lose than Ramapo does," said Shalikar.

Despite student protests, Ramapo's decrease to 397 violations is bringing it more on par with other state schools in the area.  The College of New Jersey reported 367 on campus liquor law violations in 2012, with both schools enrolling roughly 6,000 students.

"It's great that public safety is not giving out as many violations to students.  I think students are starting to learn from their mistakes and are being more aware of their actions," sophomore Jaclyn Hockenjos said.

Reports concerning campus crimes that occur in or on off-campus buildings, or property owned or controlled by the College, and on public property within or immediately neighboring the campus that are made to any College official become part of the official crime statistics for the College, which are then published in the report.

Each year representatives from Judicial Affairs, Public Safety and Student Affairs meet to assemble the crime statistics and prepare the annual report. In addition, the Public Safety Office confers with the Mahwah Police Department to confirm all data.

In this year's report, many of the statistics, such as criminal homicide, aggravated assault and hate crimes consistently remained at zero, as they have since 2010.  Other crimes, such as forcible sex offenses, burglary and arson barely fluctuated from year to year and remained in the single to low double digits. 

For most students, these statistics simply confirm the feeling of safety that they already have while on campus.

"I feel safe on campus for the most part because it is well lit and there are usually people walking around so I never feel completely alone or feel reason to be scared," said Junior Meg Mayer.

Senior Edwina Wai added, "I feel safe on campus because I feel like public safety is always around if anything were to happen."