A Bethel E-Announcement reported a significant decrease in liquor violations from 2015 to 2016.
By Mady Fortier
Sandwiched between news on the Academic Enrichment and Support Center and Cars 3 playing in Benson Great Hall, the Annual Security and Fire Statistics Report for 2014-2016 arrived in the form of a Bethel University E-Announcement which flooded the inbox of every student and faculty member Monday, Oct. 2.
The report is a summary of the criminal activity and misconduct on campus, as well as safety and security policies. Colleges and universities are obligated under federal law to write this report and make it available for the community. The security and fire statistics report for Bethel is available on the campus security website and was sent to all students and faculty at Bethel, including Bethel Seminary in St. Paul and San Diego.
The report showed a “dramatic lowering of liquor violations from 2015 to 2016,” according to the E-Announcement. In 2015, Bethel reported 39 liquor violations, similar to the 28 reported in 2014. In 2016, the liquor law violations dropped to eight.
“It was a clarification that we got on the legal definition,” Director of Risk Management Andrew Luchsinger said about the recent change in liquor law violations.
There is no evidence that alcohol abuse has decreased on Bethel’s campus, only that there have been fewer violations due to the change in procedure.
Bethel works alongside other schools in the MIAC who are under the same legal obligations, and most other schools were unclear about this protocol as well, Luchsinger said.
I think it was because there was a change not in the law, but in us following the law.
The security report defines a liquor law violation as “the violation of laws or ordinances prohibiting: the manufacture, sale, transporting, furnishing, possessing of intoxicating liquor; maintaining unlawful drinking places; bootlegging; operating a still; furnishing liquor to a minor or intemperate person; using a vehicle for illegal transportation of liquor; drinking on a train or public conveyance; and all attempts to commit any of the aforementioned activities. (Drunkenness and driving under the influence are not included in this definition.)”
“I think it (the decrease in violations) was because there was a change not in the law, but in us following the law,” Associate Director of Security Operations Nathan Katterson said.
Students found intoxicated on campus are not charged with a liquor law violation, according to Katterson. Liquor law violations are most commonly given when an underaged student is found in possession of alcohol. In previous years there have been more students referred for prosecution than in 2016. The recent clarification on the law, to Katterson’s understanding, is that a student being found intoxicated on campus does not constitute a liquor violation, but an underaged student in possession of alcohol does. The law was not being broken in previous years, as Bethel may report any student who has violated the law or Bethel’s policy, but it is not required for the university to report every student who is caught drinking on campus. The recent report states that Bethel will impose sanctions on students who violate the law or institutional policy, and they may refer students for prosecution. In some instances rehabilitation will be required for a student to continue attending Bethel.
Although Bethel employees and students in the Seminary, Graduate School and College of Adult & Professional Studies are allowed to consume alcohol off-campus, Bethel’s Covenant for Life Together states that students in the College of Arts & Sciences must abstain from the use or possession of alcoholic beverages during the school year or while participating in any Bethel-sponsored activity.
If a student is intoxicated and Bethel security or staff are notified, the disciplinary actions stated in the student handbook apply.
“Students using or possessing alcohol are subject to being placed on behavioral probation and may be assigned additional sanctions,” according to page 11 of the CAS student handbook.
The office of security and safety works with local police in Saint Paul and San Diego to keep policies current and ensure that these policies are being implemented properly. Bethel was given clarification on when to take legal action and give a liquor law violation, and in most instances it is when an underaged student is in possession of alcohol, even if they are sober. This does not change the disciplinary policy that Bethel has in place for students who drink on campus. Bethel may refer students who violate laws or institutional policy for prosecution under local, state, and federal law, according to page 33 of the recent security report. The guidelines of what classifies a liquor law violation was something that Bethel and other schools in the MIAC were unclear on. In the past year there have been fewer students referred for prosecution. Bethel has made this change, and other campuses will likely be working to do the same in the near future.