From 2018 to 2020, when LSU students were caught illegally drinking alcohol or using drugs, the university involved the police 100% of the time. This makes LSU an outlier among colleges and universities in Louisiana, where the discipline was run internally.
Federal law requires universities to report any incident involving the illegal use of alcohol or drugs. The stipulation is part of the Clery Act, which requires any school receiving federal assistance to document and disclose criminal occurrences on and near campus.
A Louisiana Illuminator review of Clery Act data showed that while other schools in Louisiana often dealt with minor alcohol and drug problems through an administrative discipline process, LSU turned exclusively to the police.
According the university’s annual safety statisticsLSU reported 301 alcohol violation arrests and 263 drug violation arrests from 2018 to 2020. No cases of internal disciplinary action for drug or alcohol violations were reported during the same period.
The LSU Police Department will always be involved whenever someone breaks the law, campus spokesman Ernie Ballard said. “We think a higher number of arrests reflects a lower tolerance for the type of conduct that often results in higher risk for young adults,” Ballard said.
One of these cases involved a hazing incident that led to the death of a freshman in November 2020. This led to the arrest of Terry Pat Reynolds III, a 21-year-old student from Shreveport, for hazing this student, whom police have not identified, and others.
Reynolds’ case is still under review, East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore said.
Reynolds’ arrest came just over a year after the hazing death of LSU fraternity pledge Max Gruver. Matthew Naquin, 21, was convicted of negligent homicide in the case, leading to new criminal hazing laws in Louisiana and in Gruver’s home state of Georgia.
Of the 11 annual crime data from Louisiana’s top universities reviewed by the Louisiana Illuminator, LSU was the only school to report zero instances of internal disciplinary action for alcohol and drug offenses from 2018 to 2020.
In addition to LSU, Louisiana Highlighter reviewed Clery Act data from 2018 to 2020 for University of Louisiana-Lafayette, University of Louisiana-Monroe, Mcneese, Southeast Louisiana, Southern, Louisiana Tech, Grambling State , Tulane, Northwestern State, University of New Orleans. and LSU-Shreveport.
Louisiana Tech recorded 157 arrests and 78 cases of internal disciplinary action for alcohol-related offenses during the three-year period. Police will make an arrest if a violation is a criminal offence, university spokeswoman Tonya Oaks Smith said.
“For example, if an 18-year-old is caught with alcohol in his dormitory, that becomes a disciplinary reference because of the laws of our state,” Smith said.
Clery Law reports do not necessarily reflect all instances of underage drinking on a college campus. Underage drinking in a dormitory is not against the law in Louisiana, as dormitories are considered private dwellings, Ballard said with LSU. A student under 21 caught drinking anywhere else on campus is subject to arrest.
LSU Alcohol Policy states that students under 21 cannot drink in campus accommodations, including fraternity and sorority houses, but it does not describe the punishment for doing so.
Whether underage drinking in dormitories is reported on criminal records varies among Louisiana universities. Tulane also does not include underage drinking in dormitories in its Clery Act reports, according to a university spokesperson. Louisiana Tech and Louisiana-Lafayette yes.
Laura Egan, senior director of programs at the Clery Center, which works with colleges and universities to meet the law’s reporting requirements, said it was “unusual” that LSU had not reported any internal discipline for infractions. related to drugs and alcohol over three years.
“It’s kind of unlikely that a school the size of LSU wouldn’t have any disciplinary credentials,” Egan said. “I would say I’m surprised by that.”
Wes Perkins, a sociology professor at Hobart and Williams Smith colleges who specializes in alcohol and substance abuse among teens and young adults, said he’s not sure LSU’s police-only policy in drug and alcohol discipline is more effective in combating illegal activities.
When a university requires the police to be involved in every minor violation, administrators, resident assistants in student residences, and the students themselves will be reluctant to report the incidents.
“They know they’re really going to cause a lot of trouble for their peers or their students, and it’s going to get parents involved in a way that can be unpleasant,” Perkins said.
For example, if a resident assistant finds students drinking just outside the dorm, rather than calling the police, “the tendency would be, in many cases, to tell them to bring him back inside. “, said Perkins.
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Fewer infraction reports at LSU do not necessarily mean fewer students are involved in binge drinking or drug addiction, Perkins said.
Most campuses are hesitant to turn their campus into a “police state,” Perkins said, “so if there’s a lot of hesitation to call the police, it’s only potentially going to be effective in the worst of situations.”