September 1, 2011

Alcohol, Drug Calls Spike During Orientation Week

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Numbers provided by the Cornell University Police Department indicate a surge in the number of drug or alcohol related service calls during Orientation Week this year.

According to CUPD Chief Kathy Zoner, there were 35 alcohol or drug related calls for service during Orientation Week in 2011, compared to eight calls in 2010. However, it has been difficult for students and police officials alike to discern what caused the increase.

Zoner said that a number of factors may be the behind the greater number of calls, including  an increased level of staffing, more stringent law enforcement and joint patrolling with the Ithaca Police Department.

“We’re trying to get a handle of the alcohol issues that are very prevalent on all college campuses and to educate new students, in particular, that alcohol use is going to be met with an appropriate level of address,” Zoner said.

Zoner added that this is the first time in three years that CUPD has joined with the IPD to patrol Collegetown. Still, of the 35 alcohol or drug related calls to CUPD, the vast majority — 26 — were answered by CUPD alone, indicating that the joint patrols were not the main factor in the spike.

Zoner said that she expects to see the joint patrols continue throughout the year.

“Cornell is looking at ways to help people off-campus and in the Collegetown area have the opportunity to get help at Gannett … and the Ithaca Police Department seems receptive to that,” Zoner said.

Students gave varying opinions for the increase in the number of drug and alcohol-related police reports.

“One of the reasons you might see increased numbers in terms of drug and alcohol related incidents is because there are more people,” said Ken Babcock ’13, president of Phi Kappa Tau.

Noting that many of this year’s parties were hosted in Collegetown, rather than fraternities,  Babcock also said that if these numbers represent “the new O-Week, this definitely reaffirms that a Cornell frat house is the safest place for anyone on campus to party.”

Alex Bankoff ’12 said that he noticed that police were more “aggressive and looking to break up parties” this year.

“Their goal is probably to initially have a hard stance and discourage future bad behavior … They want to set a strong precedent,” he said.

Shah Galeeb Ahmed ’14 said he noticed significant changes during O-Week this year as opposed to last.

“I was a freshman last year and getting into Collegetown parties during O-Week wasn’t really a problem,” he said. “This year, I’d have to say it changed a bit. One night at the end of O-Week, I’d been to three parties and all three of them in a row were shut down by the police.”

Ahmed questioned whether the increased patrols would yield an increased level of security.

“It’s going to push freshmen to start drinking in places they shouldn’t and in places where they wouldn’t want to call for help,” he said.

Katharine Close contributed reporting.

Original Author: Liz Camuti