Lehigh ranked No. 8 for most alcohol arrests


A Business Insider article released last year listed Lehigh as the No. 8 college in terms of most on-campus alcohol arrests per 1,000 students. The data came from the Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education, which tracks only on-campus crime reports and not those from surrounding areas.

According to crime statistics released by the Lehigh University Police Department, 123 individuals were arrested for liquor law violations in 2014, and 326 were referred for campus disciplinary action for the same violation.

Lehigh has been ranked No. 8 for most alcohol arrests per 1,000 students. The number of arrests for liquor law violations increased between 2013 and 2014. (Samantha Tomaszewski/Made with Canva)

Lehigh has been ranked No. 8 for most alcohol arrests per 1,000 students. The number of arrests for liquor law violations increased between 2013 and 2014. (Samantha Tomaszewski/Made with Canva)

These numbers have increased since 2013, when 105 individuals were arrested and 292 were referred. Lehigh’s police department has been working to reduce these numbers.

“Crime has been down for five straight years,” Chief of Police Edward Shupp said.

Although arrests have increased slightly, Lehigh’s student body has also grown in recent years.

“I think every college campus has alcohol and issues related to drugs and alcohol,” said Christopher Mulvihill, the assistant dean of Student Conduct and Community Expectations. “I don’t think Lehigh is any better or worse. In the 15 years that I’ve worked here, the quality of students has improved and there’s not nearly as much emphasis on alcohol as there was even 10 years ago.”

Shupp said police have been focusing on prevention strategies and education.

“(The police department’s) job is more to educate than cite,” Mulvihill said. “They try not to cite unless they really have to.”

Citations are far less serious than arrests and are more frequently issued.

Shupp said there are few officer-initiated citations. Many of the citations are made after bystanders or Gryphons place calls to the police.

“The police do not arrest everyone they stop,” Mulvihill said. “If they cite one out of 10 people they stop and talk to who’ve been drinking, then that’s a lot. Unless you’re asking for it, they’re not going to cite you.”

According to Shupp, the police only arrest those who put themselves or others in danger.

He said not all of those who are arrested on campus are Lehigh students – approximately 15 percent of arrests do not involve individuals who attend Lehigh and have no connection to the university. Many non-student arrests include people visiting campus and Bethlehem residents.

Some on-campus arrests occur at trade shows and athletic events, which are attended by a variety of individuals. These arrests are still listed on the police department’s statistics page, due to the fact that they occur on campus.

Many of the schools that comprise the top 50 for most on-campus alcohol arrests per 1,000 students are larger universities located in the Midwest and the Northeast. According to Business Insider, Lehigh was ranked above Penn State University, Michigan State University and University of Massachusetts.

“This could be because we have a lot of police officers for the number of students we have,” Mulvihill said.

There are several programs at Lehigh that are aimed at reducing the prevalence and severity of alcohol use on campus, one of which includes Lehigh After Dark.

“(Lehigh After Dark) provides undergraduate students with quality social, cultural, intellectual and community development activities that do not focus on alcohol and are open to the entire Lehigh community on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m.,” said Madalyn Eadline, the assistant to the vice provost for Student Affairs and director of Special Projects.

The program offers events such as capture the flag, swing dance, dodgeball and open mic nights.

“The rationale behind the program is that (Lehigh After Dark) allows us to infuse a variety of options into the social scene here at Lehigh,” Eadline said. “The target audience for this initiative is the entire campus community.”

Although programs such as these are offered to the Lehigh community, many students still choose to participate in alcohol-related activities, especially on the weekends. This leads to an increase in the number of arrests that occur.

Both Mulvihill and Shupp were surprised at the ranking.

“I don’t think we’re that far different from any other institution,” Mulvihill said.

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