Local News

Alcohol-related arrests up at UNC

Posted October 13, 2009 10:58 p.m. EDT
Updated October 13, 2009 11:51 p.m. EDT

— Alcohol-related arrests are up involving University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill students.

Ten students were charged in the 2006-07 school year with being drunk and disruptive and 13 the year after, according to police reports. The 2008-09 school year saw the number more than double to 28 arrests.

"The alcohol citations jumped out at us,” said Sarah Frier, city editor for The Daily Tar Heel.

The Daily Tar Heel, UNC's student newspaper, was the first to look into the alcohol-related statistics.

"We saw an unusual number. We then looked into it historically and got some background,” Frier said.

Student alcohol poisonings are also increasing among UNC students. Fifty-one cases were reported last school year, up from 28 the year before, according to the Office of the Dean of Students.

"There have already been 23 this year,” Frier said of student alcohol poisonings.

The dramatic increase is due, in part, to Orange County Emergency Services communicating more with the university. However, the school has also responded by trying to offer more alcohol-free events and stepping up law enforcement.

"They have been busting parties a lot more,” UNC junior Shawnee Evans said.

Evans said she thinks the famed Halloween bash and celebrations after UNC basketball games may help contribute to a culture of student drinking on campus.

"I know there are a lot of cases in the hospitals those nights. Maybe it is just the fact that our school is so popular for that reason,” Evans said

Chapel Hill officials successfully scaled back last year’s crowd for the Franklin Street Halloween celebration. About 35,000 people came out to 2008 party, as opposed to more than 80,000 people the year before.

"I’m not somebody who drinks to excess, but certainly there are people here that do that,” UNC junior Mathew Klinestiver said.

Klinestiver has a different solution for curbing alcohol abuse.

"I see it more of a problem that should be addressed culturally. I don't think the drinking age should be 21,” he said.

Dean Blackburn, assistant dean of students, said the university is seeing more students with an established drinking history prior to arriving at UNC. The average age of students first consuming an alcoholic beverage was 16, according to a recent UNC poll.

Blackburn also said that alcohol-related incidents at UNC are lower than the national average. He said that the university is working to change the culture regarding underage and excessive alcohol use.