Recent data released from Miami University reports shows that Miami usually has the highest number of on-campus liquor law violations per student of any Ohio school.
In the most recent 2010 report, Miami University had 543 liquor law violations on campus while Ohio University (OU) had 521. This trend is not a new one—over the past five years Miami has proven to have the highest rates of liquor law violations on campus properties. In 2006, Miami University had 790 liquor law violations on campus, in that same year, the Ohio State University (OSU) had 703 of these violations and OU had 1,040 violations according to statistics logged by universities in compliance with The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act. Both schools have significantly higher student populations compared to Miami.
Data from the 2008-2009 school year reveals that a liquor law incident occurred for one in every 27 students at Miami. Comparatively in the 2008-2009 school year, OSU handed down violations for one in every 112 students, while at OU, one in every 46 students experienced a liquor law violation. The three universities represent the highest numbers for liquor law violations in the state for four year, public universities.
Susan Vaughn, Miami’s director of ethics and student conflict resolution, suspects the numbers are largely due to the university’s overall stance on alcohol.
“Alcohol is a huge concern and so I would say Miami is fairly aggressive in dealing with alcohol. We have mandatory sanctions and we have expectations for enforcement,” Vaughn said. “So I actually would expect our numbers would be higher only because of the aggressive nature we take with addressing this problem.”
Vaughn said Miami’s numbers vary based on the student body and not based on any changes in policy. She feels Miami is extremely diligent in its dedication to combating alcohol abuse.
“Our policies haven’t changed in years and years and years. Our mandatory sanctions have stayed the same,” Vaughn said. “We don’t ignore it, we don’t give warnings and we don’t fail to document. I think there are certainly schools that have policies that say ‘First time, let’s just warn them, we won’t even make it official’ and so it doesn’t become a documentation.”
Vaughan said prospective students and their families should be impressed with Miami’s dedication to punishing students for alcohol violations.
“I think they would say ‘wow, Miami means business here.’ Because it doesn’t make a lot of sense why an Ohio State, who is so much larger, would have so few alcohol violations,” Vaughn said. “If in fact they don’t have problems associated with alcohol, I would be surprised. But I certainly can’t speak for them and their enforcement.”
Richard Morman, deputy chief of police at OSU, can comment on their enforcement.
“We have not really changed our enforcement tactics and so that would tell me that maybe less high risk consumption is going on,” Morman said. “We certainly don’t ignore it here. We’re not doing anything less than we’ve done before. I think our effective enforcement and education efforts attribute to these lowering numbers.”
Like Miami, OSU logs and reports the liquor violations of all alcohol abuse cases, an act required by federal law. Morman referenced a long-term effort, beginning in 2003, to create a better environment at OSU football home games as one of the reasons their violations have been in the decline. These efforts, and others beginning around that period, led to a larger university impact, according to Morman.
“We’ve really changed the culture at these games and around campus,” Morman said. “Are people still drinking? We would be naïve to say they aren’t. But the culture here has changed. It’s much more fan friendly and family friendly.”
Andrew Powers, chief of police at OU, said OU is satisfied with the declining number liquor law violations at the university.
“I would say that what we’re seeing is a reduction in high-risk consumption, a reduction in abuse of alcohol and that fewer students are being arrested because fewer students are engaging in behavior that leads them to be arrested,” Powers said.
Powers served with the Miami University Police Department for 18 years and left three years ago. In that time, he attributes the ever-changing landscape of alcohol consumption fads as one possible reason for the divergent violations.
“Some of the trends that have emerged in recent years, like Four Loko and things like that… I know that OU has been right at the leading edge of addressing some of those developing trends,” Powers said.
Sophomore Deborah O’Neal does not believe that Miami students necessarily consume more than those at other universities.
“Since we are smaller than a lot of schools, it’s easier for police officers to enforce the alcohol rules,” O’Neal said. “Compared to other schools I would guess we just get caught more.”
Nationally, Miami students may get caught more for liquor violations as well. In 2010, Miami University ranked 41st in the nation for liquor law violations.
OSU junior Mia Zuber has never visited Miami, but knows that students certainly drink.
“Everyone parties here, just like any school,” Zuber said. “There are just so many people here it’s probably harder to keep track of.”
Ultimately, Vaughn does not find the numbers encouraging or discouraging and expects varying statistics from year to year.
“I don’t look at them as positives or negatives. If I were a parent or a student and I was looking for schools, if I saw variations, something that concerned me, whether it was alcohol, drugs, violence, I’d ask questions,” Vaughn said. “I would say it is because we are very aggressive at addressing this problem.”
Powers sees decreased liquor law violations, at least in the case of OU, as a clear positive.
“I can tell you that, from my perspective, and from where I sit in the police department, alcohol abuse and high risk consumption is as much an issue at Miami, as it is at OU, as it is at OSU and every other university in the country,” Powers said. “What I think the numbers show is that Ohio University is being very proactive in addressing this issue. I can’t see how our numbers wouldn’t be
Amanda Seitz contributed to this report.