Late last month, the Lehigh University Police Department announced it had received a $27,951 grant from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board to combat underage and high-risk drinking on campus.
According to Capt. Richard McGarr, LUPD plans to put the grant, which was announced on Jan. 30, toward education efforts like BUZZKILL, advertising and social media, and lab supplies like breathalyzers.
McGarr said LUPD plans to push education by handing out BUZZKILL posters on patrols and distributing them to Gryphons to display in residence halls. BUZZKILL is a program that helps colleges educate students about the dangers and responsibilities of hosting parties with underage drinking.
Nate Dean ‘23, president of Delta Chi Fraternity, approves of the push towards education.
“I think education is a great idea because it will create a more positive and safe environment for the students and the community around us,” Dean said.
LUPD and Lehigh administration hope the grant will foster a better relationship between the students and the community.
Holly Taylor, assistant dean and director of Student Conduct, hopes the grant will alleviate alcohol-related disturbances to South Bethlehem residents.
“The hope is that this grant will both build community between South Bethlehem and Lehigh, and also educate our students,” Taylor said.
McGarr expects education efforts to lead to a decrease in the number of citations.
“Our goal is to educate them, not to issue citations,” McGarr said. “There’s no citation issued for city ordinances until after they’ve been warned.”
McGarr believes education efforts and warnings will be more effective in preventing bad behaviors than issuing citations.
LUPD plans to only issue citations when multiple warnings have been given.
“If you have certain residents where there have been four instances where we have been there to tell them to turn the music down or stop the party, then they are going to be issued a citation,” McGarr said. “But that has not happened this year, so that’s a good sign”
Although Lehigh’s conduct process is separate from the LUPD’s efforts, Taylor said she approves of the work they have been doing.
Taylor said she feels LUPD does a great job of only citing students who get themselves into a bind, as opposed to giving out large numbers of citations.
Dean believes the police department’s efforts to use citations as a last resort will build trust among the student body.
“I definitely know students who have gotten citations, especially as first-years.” Dean said. “I’m happy to hear they are moving away from just issuing the citation and instead giving people warnings and educational posters. I think these are good steps to move towards.”
McGarr said he wants students to know LUPD isn’t only there for alcohol enforcement; the safety of the students is their priority.
McGarr said the police are there to be approached by students, not avoided.
“If someone has an issue, it could be a domestic issue, it could be a parking issue or even a theft issue, we are out there,” McGarr said. “Come to us.”