Earlier this month, ESU released its annual Clery Crime and Fire Statistics Publication, mostly known as the Clery Report. The report documents all reported crimes on and around campus from the last three years.
Though most of the frequent offenses on campus are liquor and drug law violations, there was a significant decrease in alcohol-related arrests and disciplinary referrals between 2017 and 2018.
According to the report, 17 on-campus liquor law-related arrests occurred last year, compared to the 65 arrests in 2017. In 2018, the number of on-campus disciplinary referrals for liquor laws, which are handled by student conduct, dropped from 105 in 2017 to 35.
“In the alcohol area, we are trying to use the student conduct [code] rather than the criminal process,” said William Parrish, chief of campus police. “We all know what happens in colleges. We want to curb that behavior, especially due to some of the conduct that happens when they are under the influence.”
As of this semester, students are allowed to have alcohol in their dorms as long as that alcohol is only consumed in their dorms and not in the presence of anyone under 21.
But Parrish said he believes the new guideline will not have a significant impact on liquor law violations– at least from the viewpoint of Campus Police.
“When [campus police] get involved in an alcohol violation it’s not because of the drinking per se, it’s because of the conduct of the student who has abused alcohol,” he said. “I don’t know now that that would change now that a 21-year-old can drink on campus. They may have been watching a football game and had a beer, but we never heard about it because their behavior didn’t call our attention to it.”
Cassandra Bediako, a resident assistant in Lenape Hall, said it’s harder to catch alcohol violations now that the new guideline has been announced.
“If you see an alcohol bottle in the garbage can, you don’t know whose room it’s coming from, so you really can’t do much about it,” she said.
There were increases in two violent crimes: aggravated assault cases rose from 0 in 2017 to 2 last year and rape increased from 3 reports to 5 in 2018. The number of on-campus robberies decreased from 4 in 2017 to 0 on-campus and on the bordering streets. There were five reported campus burglaries, one of which was in student housing.
The drug law arrests and disciplinary referrals had a slight decrease between 2017 and 2018. There 20 arrests on-campus student housing in 2018, compared to 23 in 2017. There was a slight increase in campus drug law arrests. That number rose from 30 in 2017 to 32.
For violence against women, there were two reported acts of dating violence which the report defines as an act of violence by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim, eight instances of domestic violence and one act of stalking.
Dating violence offenses have remained constant with two reports in 2017 and 2018, but acts of domestic violence have risen from five in 2017 to seven in 2018.
“I find it interesting that dating violence had stayed consistent [even though] domestic violence has risen,” said Airyanna Elkins, junior. “To me, that most likely means that ESU is not taking dating violence as serious as domestic violence. I don’t understand the separation at all.”
Linden Hall had the highest number of fire alarms in 2018. However, even though they had 12 alarms, only one turned out to be an actual fire involving an electrical/ ballast issue. Two buildings in the University Ridge and Sycamore suites also had actual fires, all of which were stove fires.
Some local institutions seem to be faring worse when it comes to certain crimes. Nearby Moravian College, in Bethlehem, Pa., for instance, recorded eight rapes and four burglaries on its 2019 Clery report, but Moravian’s enrollment is less than one-third of ESU’s, making the rates of crime significantly higher.
According to Parrish, the university received several hundred thousand dollars’ worths of equipment that will have a significant upgrade to its video cameras. The upgrades will enable the cameras to looks for certain crime characteristics in certain areas and will send a test message to the police, alerting them to suspicious activity.
“Once that’s in place, I anticipate even more cameras rolling out to take advantage of that server and so forth,” Parrish said.
Campus police now have student interns who are available to give safety rides at students’ request. According to Parrish, the interns were added to help students feel more comfortable when getting a safe ride.
“Maybe you don’t want to ride with a police officer when you’ve had something to drink and you’re 19,” he said. “We’re not looking for drunks to arrest, but who’s going to trust us if they are 19 and drinking. So, a student can get them safely.”
The department also hired three additional officers and are looking to establish a better relationship between campus police and the students.
“When there’s a dispute or when there’s trouble afoot, students are still reluctant to call the police in advance of a serious incident,” Parrish said. “We get called thereafter the violence and that’s discouraging at times because have we of gotten there a few minutes earlier maybe we could have prevented something from happening. So, that’s where that bond is crucial.”
To read the full Clery report visit www.esu.edu/university_police
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