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Liquor law violations dropped in 2017, report finds

September 28, 2018

Liquor law violations were down in 2017, according to the Annual Security Report on Campus Crime, Fire, Alcohol and Illegal Drugs, but Director of Safety and Security Randy Nichols doesn’t expect the numbers to stay low again this year.

Seventy-five students received judicial referrals for these violations last year, compared to 154 in 2016 and 164 in 2015. Nichols attributed the drop in part to a “safe year,” noting that only 12 students were transported due to alcohol use—fewer than in past years and fewer than at many peer schools.

The 75 violations were classified as judicial referrals, not arrests. In Maine, possession of alcohol by a minor is not an arrestable offense. Distribution of alcohol to a minor is an arrestable offense, but according to the report, there have not been any students charged with that in the last three years.

Low-risk drinking, Nichols said, often results in fewer citations.

“If the situation is a generally safe one, officers are inclined to use more discretion for minor infractions,” he said.

He did note, however, that the drop in violations described in the Clery report probably was in part related to the counting system. The federally mandated report only includes violations that occur on or directly adjacent to campus or on other college-owned property—in Bowdoin’s case, places such as the Schiller Coastal Studies Center or the Bowdoin Scientific Station on Kent Island.

Notably, it does not count citations that occur at off-campus residences, and Nichols noted that—with more students living off campus last year—there were a number of incidents that didn’t meet the criteria for inclusion in the Clery report.

“The geography is very precise,” he said. “That accounts for probably some of it.”

He added that, based on numbers during the first nine months of 2018, there has been a resurgence in alcohol citations. The 2017 drop is therefore unlikely to represent a trend.

Every college and university in the United States that participates in federal student aid programs is required to complete an annual safety report in accordance with the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act of 1998. The report for the previous year is required to be released by October 1. Nichols announced the report’s release in an email to students, faculty and staff on Tuesday. It is also available on the Office of Safety and Security’s website.

The report also stated that there were 10 sex offenses officially reported in 2017. Nichols said this figure includes incidents reported to the Office of Gender Violence Prevention and Education in addition to any reported to Security.

“[Director of Gender Violence Prevention and Education] Benje [Douglas] and I coordinate very, very carefully,” he said.

He acknowledged that sex crimes are underreported at Bowdoin and across colleges and jurisdictions, adding that, for purposes of Clery statistics, victims remain completely anonymous.

“Even if a person does not want to come forward … at least reporting it for statistical purposes is helpful,” he said.

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