UMD had the 13th highest per-student alcohol arrest rate in the country last year, according to a study conducted by Project Know. UMD dropped six places from the year prior, when UMD recorded the 7th highest arrest rate for alcohol related offenses in the nation. UMD Police Chief Scott Drewlo thinks there are several explanation as to why UMD’s rate has fallen. Many statistics change from year to year due to randomness, and he said UMD’s drop could just be a meaningless shift of the rates.
“The stats are oftentimes so tight that it’s just like an Indy 500 where people are just changing positions all the time,” he said.
An alternative explanation is the department’s emphasis on proactive enforcement via working with entities like the Student Association and Health Services. With more cooperation across campus, binge-drinkers can be confronted by a counselor or resident advisor before police action becomes necessary.
Drewlo said UMDPD exercises a soft presence on campus, but students interviewed disagree.
“I’ve gotten in trouble with the cops with alcohol before,” said sophomore Hayden Paulson, “[but] if I had been at another school, I don’t think I would have.”
Others students corroborated Paulson’s sentiments, and thought other schools had looser alcohol-related policies.
“All of the others schools [I’ve been to] are a lot more lenient,” said junior Pocholo Concepcion. “They don’t try to bust students...even if [students] are drunk and stumbling to the dorms, [cops] don’t do anything. Here in Duluth they do.”
Drewlo understands students’ concerns but said UMDPD follows protocol standard to every police force he knows. UMD is one of three campuses in Minnesota to have its own police force, the others being the Twin Cities and Morris.
Students thought an on-campus police force could explain why UMD ranked 13th in the nation in the alcohol arrest rate, but neither the Twin Cities or Morris made the top 50. A study conducted by Health Services suggested that UMD students are naturally more prone to take risks, something Drewlo agreed with.
“Culturally this area draws outdoorsy, quasi-risk-taking students... go-out-and-party kinda students,” he said.
Regardless of how prone to risk-taking UMD students may be, every student interviewed said they had noticed a difference between enforcement at UMD and at other schools they partied at.
“Visiting other colleges I’ve never seen a party get busted, but here it’s like every party gets busted,” said sophomore Mikala Long. “Cops here are like, crazy.”
Students said cops should keep their distance and not bother students even if they are noticeably intoxicated.
“[UMD] cops seem mean and strict,” said Concepcion, “they should just let kids have a good time.”
Drewlo said UMDPD has a responsibility to protect students’ well-being, even if that means giving them a citation for underage consumption.
“Our main concern is students’ safety and welfare. And sometimes that may mean that one of the options is a citation and a trip to detox.” He added that the police do not unilaterally decide to bust off-campus house parties.
“[It’s] the last place we want to be,” he said, but they have no choice because they are responding to a 9-1-1 call which a neighbor probably called in.
BY JOHN FAHNENSTIEL Staff Reporter