Lawrence releases 2010 Crime Statistics Report

Maija Anstine

Lawrence released the 2010 Report of Crime Statistics on Sept. 28. The report included information about the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act, the Campus Safety, Security and Fire Safety reports and a letter from President Beck. The documents were distributed by email to Lawrence students, faculty and staff.

The biggest shifts between the 2009 and the 2010 report occurred in recorded burglaries and drug and alcohol law violations.

In 2009, there were nine reported burglaries, compared with zero in 2010.

“With the installation of new security cameras and door hardware, we were able to minimize outside visitors,” explained Security Supervisor Jon Meyer. “We also changed some hours of officers to better patrol campus during peak times when the burglaries were occurring.”

Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Nancy Truesdell asserted that the 2009 burglaries were an aberrant rash.

“It’s hard to know how to feel [about the numbers],” she said. Truesdell explained that a rise or fall in reported violations doesn’t necessarily indicate a rise or fall in actual occurrences, something she explained was particularly true of sexual offenses — down to 2 from 4 in 2009. Additionally, the definitions of some violations have changed. “You can’t just draw simple conclusions from these reports,” she said.

The same can be said for drug and alcohol law violations, according to Assistant Director of Counseling Services and Alcohol Education Coordinator Paul Valencic. Though the number of alcohol violations stayed about the same — 17 in 2009 and 19 in 2010— Valencic said that the National College Health Assessment has indicated that binge drinking in general is on the decline.

Said Valencic, “We have to make sure we’re not taking any risks with alcohol poisoning,” and noted that the university’s policy is to “[not] question if there’s any indication that things aren’t going well.” This policy means that RLAs call ambulances more frequently for students who show any sign of alcohol poisoning; the more frequently that police get involved, the higher the reported instances of alcohol law violation. But college drinking is still a problem for Valencic and the Wellness staff at Lawrence.

He explained, “[Binge drinking] is a constant. You just have to keep responding to the issue.”

“It’s a developmental issue,” he said, “finding out what’s driving these issues. It doesn’t mean things don’t, won’t change, but until students decide to understand how harmful drinking can be, it’s going to be a problem.”

Since the use of cigarettes and incense is banned in dorms, the use of marijuana is much more transparent. However, Valencic did not discount the doubled statistic, admitting that recent NCHA findings point to greater marijuana use among college students.

Said Valencic, “With wellness efforts, we really hope for overall reductions over time.” These efforts include creating more outlets for students and more programs “to express the breadth of what wellness really is.”

Truesdell encouraged students to review the statistics, but she emphasized that “the purpose behind the report is really the text that comes before the numbers,” referring to information on drug and alcohol risks as well as safety policies.

She concluded, “I hope people do take a minute to look. Everybody has a responsibility and we all have the right to live, work and study here comfortably.”