UW Oshkosh’s annual campus security report revealed that alcohol law violations remain the most reported crime on campus, while the number of burglaries and drug arrests is down in recent years.
Alcohol violations, which include citations and warnings for the possession, consumption and distribution of alcohol under the legal drinking age, made up over 80% of reported crime on the UWO campus in 2019, according to the 2020 Annual Security Report.
Also known as the Clery report, the report is required annually by colleges nationwide and is named after Jeanne Clery, who was raped and murdered in her Pennsylvania dorm room in 1986. In 1986, standards for campus crime reporting did not exist.
The UWO report showed that there were 619 alcohol referrals on campus in 2019, a 24% increase from 499 in 2018.
UWO Captain of Police Chris Tarmann said it’s unfortunate how much underage drinking is expected on college campuses, but it doesn’t remove the importance of tackling the issue.
One thing the University Police (UP) does to address the issue is partner with the Women’s Center for the Red Zone initiative by providing an increased presence in vulnerable areas on campus.
The red zone refers to the six weeks at the beginning of the fall semester when a disproportionate number of campus sexual assaults take place.
Tarmann said students who consume alcohol are often vulnerable to being victims of assault, especially during the red zone, so the UP has more strict enforcement of alcohol violations during this time.
“We know that some of those activities are going to happen regardless, so if we’re in the area then we’re also letting people who are going to prey on our vulnerable students know that we’re out there,” Tarmann said.
He said that the behaviors that come with drinking are often linked to the likelihood of sexual harassment or assault occurring.
“Our presence and our ability to reduce those under age activities actually reduces the potential for sexual assaults,” he said.
The number of reported sexual offenses, including rape and fondling, on campus have remained low with only six reported offenses in 2019, up from three in 2018.
However, Tarmann said he thinks those numbers don’t reflect the actual number of sex offenses on campus since those crimes are likely underreported.
According to a report from the Journal of American College Health, 50% of sexual assaults on college campuses occur in August, September, October and November. Students are most at risk for sexual assault in their first or second semester of college.
UWO has seen a decrease in the number of drug arrests and drug abuse violations in recent years.
Drug arrests decreased by nearly 50% in the past three years. According to the report, 74 arrests were made for drugs in 2017, while 40 arrests were made in 2019.
Drug abuse violations have consistently decreased over the past five years, the study shows. There were 152 drug violations on campus in 2015 and 92 in 2019, nearly a 40% decrease over five years.
Tarmann said the decrease in drug arrests and violations is because the UP has changed how they manage drug calls in recent years.
A large number of drug arrests are for marijuana and Tarmann said the UP previously apprehended all incidents where the smell of marijuana was present or reported.
Tarmann said the UP recently chose to only address situations where the smell of marijuana is present if the people involved are causing problems.
“If you smell like marijuana but you’re not causing a problem, that’s not really something that we’re gonna address,” he said. “But if you are causing a problem and you smell like marijuana — that we address.”
The Clery report showed that UWO’s burglaries have decreased since 2017, when 14 were reported. Burglaries have gone down about 78% since then with three reported in 2019.
Tarmann said the decrease in burglaries is likely due to the UP’s “Busted” initiative that began in 2018 as a way to give students burglary prevention tips.
Under the Busted initiative, officers check residence halls for unlocked doors and leave a flyer with tips on how to prevent burglaries if they find rooms open and unattended.
Burglaries on campus went down 14% after the initiative was implemented, according to crime statistics.
Tarmann said the initiative was created after the UP found that the majority of burglaries on campus were happening inside residence halls.
“Our strategy was to have our people in residence halls walk down the hallways and if they see a door open … and if nobody was there and the door was open, they would put a plastic card in front of the door and close it,” he said.
Tarmann said the UP expanded the Busted initiative to other campus buildings where students will receive information cards if an officer finds their property unattended.
“We figured out a way to communicate with our community members so that they can receive information on burglaries in a non-threatening way,” he said.Tarmann said the UP’s strategy on burglaries is to share their crime data with the community to keep them informed.
“When your police officers have good relationships with people in their community then they will share information which helps us resolve crimes faster as well,” he said.