CCU ranks high in drug and alcohol arrests - WBTW-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Florence, SC

CCU ranks high in drug and alcohol arrests

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A recent study by Rehabs.com sorted through statistics from the Department of Education to rank the colleges with the highest number of drug and alcohol arrests.

Coastal Carolina University came in 7th in drug arrests and 20th in drug and alcohol arrests combined.

The numbers for that study come from 2011, due to the delayed release of statistics like that.

A closer look into the Department of Education's numbers showed 2011 was higher than other years. In 2010 there were 45 drug arrests to about 8,000 students or around 5 per 1,000 students. In 2011 there were 85 arrests to about 9,000 students or close to 9 for every 1,000 and in 2012 campus police made 59 drug arrests for around 9,000 students for a ratio of about 6 per 1,000.

University officials don't see the high number of arrests as a problem, though. They see it as a sign their police force is cracking down on drug and alcohol use on campus. Dean of students Travis Overton says the university has put a lot of educational programs in place to deter drug and alcohol use, but that only goes so far. Although he said no one likes seeing high numbers connected to crime it sends a strong message to students.

"The dangers of alcohol and drug use, I could speak on all day long. However, by having regular and consistent enforcement it allows for the environment to understand that the university is going to have a response to that," Overton said.

That spike in 2011 also came just a few years after current Department of Public Safety Chief David Roper took over. Roper agreed with Overton about the perception of the arrest numbers.

"What I tend to like to see is that we have an active, proactive law enforcement personnel who go out and we don't stick our head in the sand. We want to go out and, if there is a problem, fight the problem," Roper said.

He also believes the spike in arrests was in due in part to a system he created for CCU called Silent Witness. The program allows students to text anonymous tips directly into the DPS dispatch. Roper said he believes students are more than willing to help crackdown on drug and alcohol abuse on campus.

"Most of our students want to come here and get an education. They want to do good things with their life plus have good time, but they want a safe environment," Roper said.

Overton said CCU has developed a tiered system of discipline for students who are caught using drugs and alcohol on campus. He says it's aimed at educating students and giving them a second chance.

"Each level has a strong educational component that is allowing the student to be educated about their decisions before we move toward a possible separation from the campus," Overton explained.

He said the university also started a program this past year called Alcohol EDU which educates students about drugs and alcohol before they even arrive on campus their freshman year.

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