The weekend of Sept. 9 through 11 saw the arrests of two students on campus at Elizabethtown College as a result of substance abuse.
A junior, resident of Vera Hackman North Apartments, was arrested by the Elizabethtown Borough Police at 12:22 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 10 for marijuana possession and the presence of the synthetic drug LSD. A first-year was arrested at 3:13 in the morning on Sept. 11 for public drunkenness, disorderly conduct, purchase of ethyl alcohol by a minor and for carrying false identification.
These circumstances were both in violation of the Student Code of Conduct. Typically, the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities (SRR) deals with on-campus crimes internally.
“When we have on-campus incidents that involve alcohol or drugs, most of the time it’s handled through the student conduct process,” Andrew Powell, Director of Campus Security, said. “But there are times when, depending on the type of drugs we find or amount of drugs, we’ll decide to get the borough involved, and then they will, more times than not, go forward with criminal charges.”
In the junior’s circumstance, a call from concerned fellow students alerted Campus Security to the use of synthetic drugs by five students and one unregistered guest in an apartment. Officers searched the junior’s room, where they found LSD and marijuana, as well as drug paraphernalia. Elizabethtown Borough police officers detained him. “He walked out in handcuffs,” an observer, who does not wish to be named, said.
This bystander and another student, who asked to remain nameless, believe that the incident is being “swept under the rug” by the College. As it stands, the junior has yet to be expelled or punished in any way. He is still living in the same apartment. He declined to comment regarding his arrest and standing at the College.
The other drug users scattered, with one, a resident of the Quads, rumored to have alcohol poisoning. There is an entry in the Daily Crime & Fire Log for the same night in the same location that reports an alcohol violation that was referred to the SRR. Campus Security allegedly told other sober students to drive the unregistered guest to a motel.
A first-year, who is under 21 years of age, was arrested for public intoxication outside of Ober Residence Hall early in the morning on Sept. 11.
He was also found to be carrying a fake ID. The first-year was arrested by Elizabethtown Borough Police Department and is currently still a student at the College. Powell would not disclose whether or not it was a student who alerted Campus Security to the disorderly conduct, as was the case with the junior’s arrest, saying that “it doesn’t matter.”
The department usually calls the Elizabethtown Borough Police when a situation is severe enough to warrant an arrest, which Campus Security officers cannot make. “Our involvement in arrests really depends,” Powell said. “Once they make a decision to make an arrest, we are pretty much out of it. We do not have arrest powers.”
With drug and alcohol abuse on campus, punishments from the school can range from disciplinary notices to expulsion—essentially, the same options for any other violations of the Student Code of Conduct, as well. These might include plagiarism or cheating.
“The criminal process and the student adjudication process are parallel but separate,” Powell said. “So if a student gets arrested for alcohol or drugs and goes through the criminal process, that doesn’t necessarily excuse them from going through the adjudication process also.”
The current arrest count for the month of September now matches that over the course of the entire 2015-2016 school year. “I don’t think there’s one single cause,” Powell said regarding the increase in criminal activity on campus. “If you look at it in aggregate, crime rates do ebb and flow a lot.”
He noted that while underage drinking is more common, the finding of synthetic drugs on campus was “uncommon” or “rare,” with Campus Security usually coming across them once or twice per year. “That’s not to say that we don’t have other conduct issues that don’t rise to the level of arrests,” he said. “I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s a trend.”
The crime log since that weekend reveals no drug or alcohol issues. “Anecdotally, it is somewhat busier at the beginning of the semester. Typically, we see an increase in activity at the beginning of the fall semester and the end of the spring semester, so that’s when we know historically that there are more incidents,” Powell said.
The 2016 Clery Report, which is the annual security and fire safety report all colleges and universities are required to disclose, will be published by Campus Security on Friday, Sept. 30. This year’s reportable figures reflect a decrease in drug violations.
Last year’s numbers show 30 referrals. This calendar year, only 12 have been made. Powell considers it doubtful that 19 more drug referrals will occur before the end of December, likely marking an improvement in drug abstinence by students.
All of information about the College’s crime statistics and these two arrests is publicly available on Campus Security’s webpage, and the LiveSafe app makes reaching staff members even easier by providing another use-friendly platform to share information.
The department believes that having this sort of open relationship with Etown students is mutually beneficial. “When it comes to alcohol and drugs, our main concern is the health and safety of the student body,” Powell said. “There are occasions where students make bad choices or have bad judgment, and it results in criminal charges and getting arrested.”
While seeing an arrest is not the goal of Campus Security, the director has seen an intervention set students who might be on a bad path straight. He called these two arrests an “educational opportunity.”
Further augmenting the idea that campus officials are making an effort to keep students informed regarding the presence of drugs on and around campus, President Carl Strikwerda sent the campus community an email on Wednesday, Sept. 28 drawing attention to the heroin usage in Lancaster County that prompts Elizabethtown EMS calls on a near-daily basis.
In the last three-and-a-half weeks, there have been three heroin overdoses in the Elizabethtown area and 12 fatal overdoses in Lancaster County. Strikwerda announced a public forum on opiate use to be held at Elizabethtown High School on Oct. 19, at 6:30 p.m.
All students are reminded by the College to avoid using illegal substances and to look out for community members who may be affected by them.