Rise of Campus Alcohol & Drug Abuse

On Sept. 30, the Sacred Heart University community was made aware of “The Federal Jeanne Clery Disclosure Act of Campus Crime and Fire.” The report provided statistics on how Liquor and Drug Law violations have increased over the course of the past three years.

The document also includes institutional policies and procedures concerning campus security, fire drill history, sexual harassment information and other related matters. This report is updated annually based on public property that is leased or owned by SHU.

In 2019, the judicial referrals for on-campus Liquor Law Violations sat at 539, decreasing the following year to 469. In 2021 alone, the on-campus incidents increased to 602.

A statement made by “The Federal Jeanne Clery Disclosure Act of Campus Crime and Fire” states there is “zero tolerance for underage students consuming alcoholic beverages.”

“I do not think many students abide by this rule today. I think there is a college culture where partying and binge drinking is extremely encouraged,” said Stephen Gonzalez, Sacred Heart’s senior Resident Hall Director.

Gary MacNamara, Executive Director of SHU’s Public Safety & Government Affairs, described Sacred Heart’s overall goal in enforcing zero tolerance for underage drinking.

“We expect students to abide by the rules as it relates to alcohol. We do know that some will disregard the rules anyway and drink anyway,” said MacNamara.

Sophomore Luke Sherry witnesses the impact of drugs and alcohol on the SHU community firsthand. “You cannot prevent drugs and alcohol in the SHU community. There are simply no rules that can be inducted that would eliminate all usage of drugs and alcohol,” said Sherry.

With statistics fluctuating in regard to Liquor Law Violations, the same pattern occurs for Drug Law Violations. In 2019, on-campus incidents were at 89, decreasing to 24 the following year. In 2021, the on-campus incidents increased to 82.

The SHU Campus Crime and Fire Report is adamant about student involvement in the safety of the school’s community. As stated by the report, “The cooperation, involvement, and support of all students in taking an active role in crime prevention are crucial.”

As statistics increased over the past three years, the role students play is a major role in future statistics.

“We have seen cases around the country where students have died because others either did not recognize the true medical emergency or were afraid of getting in trouble,” said MacNamara.

Sacred Heart offers resources for those struggling with alcohol or drug abuse, such as the Collegiate Recovery Program.

“Students are most likely not to engage in recovery on campus but will rather go elsewhere to seek help,” says Sherry.

The Sacred Heart Collegiate Recovery Program was established in the spring of 2019 and began operation in the fall of 2019.

The Collegiate Recovery Program is located in the main academic building. The recovery program’s mission is “to give every student the best possible chance at achieving success through physical, mental and spiritual growth.”

The program varies in recognition among Sacred Heart University students.

“As an RSA at SHU, I was unaware this resource even existed, and I hope that it’s something my residents know they could contact if they’re in need,” says Gonzalez.

With recognizing SHU’s resources, Sherry said, “I believe that SHU’s resources for recovery are very accessible, but not publicized properly.”

Sacred Heart now offers housing for students in the Collegiate Recovery Program.

Photo: Carissa Munoz

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