Sun God 2007 to Blame for Spike in Drug, Alcohol Arrests

    A sharp increase in on-campus drug- and alcohol-related arrests was reported last year, according to campus crime statistics released last week, primarily due to a rise in the number of arrests and citations of nonstudent attendees at the 2007 Sun God Festival.

    The UCSD Police Department cited in its annual Clery Report that 76 drug- and narcotic-related arrests and 100 alcohol-related arrests were made in 2007, more than double the 34 drug-related and 36 alcohol-related arrests made in 2006.

    The number of disciplinary referrals given out by campus authorities and the UCPD also rose from 131 drug-related referrals and 1,382 alcohol-related referrals in 2006 to 152 drug-related referrals and 1,591 alcohol-related referrals in 2007.

    Police Chief Orville King attributed these increases to on-campus events held in 2007, namely the Sun God Festival, where 176 arrests and citations were made. However, about 70 percent of these were issued against ­­­UCSD nonaffiliates.

    “A number of factors may provide insight into increases or decreases in alcohol- and drug-related arrests on campus,” King said. “Arrests alone do not necessarily mean alcohol- [or] drug-related activity has gone up or down. Increases or decreases in drug- and alcohol-related arrests might also have a relationship to many factors. Examples include how many events are held on campus and the nature of those events, student population and the level of enforcement provided.”

    However, because the Clery Report — required to be released each October by all universities participating in federal financial-aid programs — lists crime statistics from the past calendar year, the increase was addressed in 2008 by A.S. Programming officials — responsible for planning the Sun God Festival — and the UCPD.

    A.S. Associate Vice President of Programming Garret Berg noted two main causes for the spike in arrests and citations at the 2007 festival: the disputable ratio of attendees to undercover police officers and the unaccounted-for indiscretions of UCSD nonaffiliates, who were arrested and cited by police officers and thus included in the Clery Report.

    In response to 2007’s inflated figures, A.S. Programming implemented a number of new safety procedures at last year’s festival, following administrative guidelines and festival-operation feedback outlined in the 22-page Sun God Planning Report. Programmers partnered with the University Events Office to gather input from other campus departments, including the UCPD­ — which voiced concern over the abundance of alcohol present at the 2007 festival.

    Programming officials continued to work closely with the UCPD throughout the festival-planning process to prevent a repeat of the trends observed in 2007. In accordance with the requests of these officials, the UCPD agreed to reduce the number of undercover police officers patrolling the event.

    The event itself was planned with stronger community ideals in an attempt to unify and strengthen the campus community and promote a safe, contained environment for students.

    As an apparent result, drug and alcohol incidents declined at the 2008 Sun God Festival, which will, according to King, “likely support an overall decline in arrests for 2008,” depending on the number of arrests made during the remainder of the year.

    However, Berg said, despite the overall decrease in the number of arrests and citations in 2008 due to the decrease in nonaffiliate arrests, the number of student arrests and citations increased. A.S. Programming plans to release its annual report containing specific data regarding last year’s arrests within the next few weeks at the Sun God Student Forum. The increase in student arrests and citations will also be addressed as plans for the 2009 festival gain momentum.

    The UCPD will maintain its watch over alcohol- and drug-related incidents to ensure campus and student well-being.

    “The police department continues to be vigilant in monitoring alcohol and drug activity and looks for better and more efficient methods of addressing campus safety,” King said.

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