A Campus Under the Influence

By: Lisa Perez and Marguerite Tallman

Arrest evidence shows that the number of liquor arrests on campus remained about the same from 2011 – 2012, but decreased in 2013. About half of those arrests each year were in residential facilities.

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Alcohol and Narcotic Violations Statistics at ODU from 2010 – 2013

The evidence also shows that the number of drug arrests remained about the same from 2011 – 2102, and decreased in 2013.  About half of those arrests each year were in residential facilities as well.

From January to April of 2014, about one in six of all liquor and drug violations occurred at Whitehurst Hall, a freshman dormitory, where alcohol is forbidden and theoretically all violations involve underage drinking.

More than 80 percent of ODU students said they had engaged in underage drinking on campus. The results came from an online anonymous survey of 31 ODU students who responded. Nearly 40 percent said they have taken illegal drugs on campus. Nearly 70 percent said they have purchased drugs or alcohol from another student on campus. Nearly 50 percent have said they felt pressured by their peers to drink or take illegal drugs. Nearly 20 percent said they have been caught drinking or doing illegal drugs on campus. And finally, 100 percent said they would not report another student for drinking underage or taking illegal drugs on campus.

In the previous four months, there have been a total of 42 narcotic violations, 19 liquor law violations, five public intoxications, and two DUI’s reported on campus. During the same time, there were tennarcotics violations and two liquor law violations in Whitehurst.

“People aren’t afraid to drink underage because they know they’ll get away with it,” said Kim, a 19–year-old female freshman resident of Whitehurst Hall. Resident Advisors must announce themselves prior to an inspection and aren’t allowed to open drawers or closets. ODU police are only called if there is probable cause.

“If there was a zero tolerance policy on drugs and alcohol in the dorms, the police would never leave Whitehurst,” said Sydney, a 22-year-old female RA of Whitehurst.

Whitehurst Hall, an all-freshman housing residence

Whitehurst Hall, an all-freshman housing residence

Whitehurst Hall is a six-story building that houses 600 students. The building also has a dining room with kitchen, front desk and common area on the first floor.

Sydney has observed one freshman fraternity pledge coming into the building drunk. The pledge, which suffers from sleepwalking, will urinate on his roommate’s belongings and in the hallway when he drinks.

“If the kid is good enough to make it to their room, why bother? There’s lots of paperwork involved too,” said Sydney.

She has smelled marijuana at least three times while performing routine room inspections and called ODU Police. She remained in the room until officers arrived.

About 45 percent of the 31 students who responded to an online anonymous survey said they have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol during class. About 35 percent also said they have missed class because they were under the influence or hungover.

“Drinking is part of my writing process. It loosens me up so that my papers flow well. The key is moderation. Too much drinking can have the opposite effect,” said one student.

“Sitting in class is miserable…And didn’t have a big effect on my grades because I’m not a dummy and drink the night before a test,” said another response.

The opinions of students and those with authority on campus have very different views of whether narcotics and alcohol are a problem. A zero tolerance policy has also been discussed, but the cons outweigh the pros.

Acting Police Chief Lt Keitha Boone explained the ODU Police Department’s main focus is to ensure student safety. She acknowledged the problem of underage drinking, but understands it is part of a traditional experience. However, students under the age of 21 should not drink, and those of age should do it responsibly and with discretion.

If you or someone you know is interested in talking individually with a counselor or joining a support group to deal with drug or alcohol abuse issues, please contact the Office of Counseling Services, 1526 Webb Center, North Wing or call (757) 683-4401. All services are confidential.