The number of punishments dished out to Coastal Carolina University students for drug violations has more than doubled in the last six years while reports of burglaries have decreased 95 percent.
According to CCU’s Annual Campus Security Report, drug law violation referrals increased by 105 percent from 127 in 2010 to 260 in 2015. The report is in compliance with the Clery Act, a federal statute that requires colleges and universities participating in federal financial aid programs to release by Oct. 1 the type and location of all crimes on or near university property.
Liquor-law violation referrals for disciplinary action have increased 53 percent at CCU, from 617 in 2010 to 946 in 2015, according to the report.
The student population has grown 21 percent in the same time period, from 8,706 students in 2010 up to 10,263 students in 2015. Around 4,600 of the students live on campus.
Outside of us documenting what comes to the attention of our team members, there’s not necessarily anything that we can explain why referrals go up.
Travis Overton, CCU dean of students
“Outside of us documenting what comes to the attention of our team members, there’s not necessarily anything that we can explain why referrals go up,” said Coastal Carolina Dean of Students Travis Overton. “If it’s determined to be a violation, then it can range anywhere from a disciplinary warning all the way to permanent dismissal from the institution, but there’s a host of other factors to determine where it falls on there.”
A referral for disciplinary action is a school punishment for crimes on campus witnessed by a school official or resident assistant. Referrals are based on federal guidelines, and Overton said a referral occurs as soon as a university official or resident assistant documents an incident.
We are an institution that requires our first and second-year students to all live on campus, which means that population of our students are all required through university policy to be living on campus. So as a result, that creates a more first-year, second-year population that we’re interacting with in our residence halls.
Travis Overton, CCU dean of students
According to the Department of Education’s handbook for campus safety and security reporting, infractions include only acts that break the law. Infractions of university policy only cannot be included.
For example, according to the federal guidelines, “… if a student of legal drinking age in the state in which your institution is located violates your institution’s ‘dry campus’ policy and is referred for disciplinary action, don’t include that incident in your Clery Act statistics because the referral was not the result of a law violation.”
The school doles out more punishments per-capita to students for drug and alcohol violations than the University of South Carolina, Clemson University and the University of South Carolina Upstate, according to the schools’ Clery reports.
In 2015, CCU reported one liquor law violation referral for every 11 students. The University of South Carolina had one referral for every 93 students, Clemson had one referral for every 51 students and the University of South Carolina Upstate had one referral for every 214 students, according to data from the schools’ Clery reports compared to 2015 enrollment data.
I do know our arrangements and can say that our chief has requested of our officers that any alcohol or drug infraction that our officers respond to involving a CCU community member is recorded in writing. This means there is a ticket, warning or referral written for all these infractions.
Capt. Thomas Mezzapelle, CCU police
But when comparing the university to other schools, Overton said it’s important to look at whether or not other institutions have a first and second-year requirement of their students to live on campus.
“We are an institution that requires our first- and second-year students to all live on campus, which means that population of our students are all required through university policy to be living on campus,” he said. “So as a result, that creates a more first-year, second-year population that we’re interacting with in our residence halls.”
Clemson University, the University of South Carolina and the University of South Carolina Upstate all have a first-year, on-campus living requirement, but not a two-year requirement.
While referrals are documented reports of an incident, they don’t lead to arrests, which are counted in a separate category.
According to federal guidelines, if a violation results in a student being arrested and referred for disciplinary action, only the arrest is counted in the annual report.
Drug arrests at CCU have increased 95 percent, from 45 in 2010 to 88 in 2016. Liquor-law violation arrests have increased 24 percent, from 128 in 2010 to 159 in 2015.
In an email, CCU police Capt. Thomas Mezzapelle said he could not comment on the increase in drug and alcohol-related arrests, but noted that in the last three years, drug arrests have decreased from 98 in 2013 to 88 in 2015.
In 2015, Coastal Carolina reported 159 liquor law arrests, one for every 65 students. The University of South Carolina had one arrest for every 504 students, the University of South Carolina Upstate reported one arrest for every 600 students, and Clemson University had one arrest for every 147 students.
Mezzapelle said he couldn’t comment on the difference in arrests per-capita at other schools compared to CCU.
“I do not know the policies, procedures nor daily workings of the other mentioned institutions,” he said in an email. “I do know our arrangements and can say that our chief has requested of our officers that any alcohol or drug infraction that our officers respond to involving a CCU community member is recorded in writing. This means there is a ticket, warning or referral written for all these infractions. Doing this allows us to document a realistic number of offenses.”
Mezzapelle noted that reports of burglaries, which have decreased 95 percent, going from 88 in 2010 to four in 2015, may have decreased because of school program called “Learn to Lock” it.
“In this effort, at least once a year, a team made up of a university housing representative and a CCU DPS law enforcement officer knock every apartment door owned by CCU and check that it is locked as well as making contact with the residents as to why it is important,” Mezzapelle wrote in an email. “University housing has also added locks to the doors of the apartments that automatically lock when the door is closed.”
The number of reported on-campus sex offenses has risen from one to 11 between 2010 and 2015, although it has fallen from 15 in 2014.
Mezzapelle said that outside the “arrest” category, a report of a crime doesn’t necessarily mean an arrest or crime has occurred, but that it’s only a report that a crime may have occurred in an area that the university owns or controls.
He said the university offers a lot of ways for students to report sexual assaults.
“What we do know is that the university provides many different people, offices and resources for our community members to report,” he said. “They can report to CCU DPS, student health services, counseling services, the dean of students office, a professor, advisor, Title IX coordinator or university housing representative and this is not a complete list. So we believe that we are giving our community enough avenues to report that we are getting more victims to report one way or another.”
Christian Boschult, 843-626-0218, @TSN_Christian
Crime at CCU
On-campus drugs and alcohol referrals/arrests
Illegal weapons possession
Liquor Law violations
Drug law violations
On-campus crime reports
On-campus reports first tracked in 2013