Each year the city of DeKalb is flooded with old and new students anticipating the start of classes, seeing old friends and attending parties that may include alcohol.
“Crime appears to be up this year,” said University Police Sgt. Alan Smith. “One factor is that we are patrolling areas off-campus such as the Village Housing, Greek Row and Amber Manor. We patrol up to Ridge Road to the north.”
The DeKalb City Police also patrol these areas and work with the NIU Police to create a safe environment.
“Chief Grady and I discussed how we could decrease crime,” said Dekalb Police Chief Bill Feithen. “We ask them [NIU Police] to provide a presence and expand their patrolling to give us assistance, We were down officers and activity was up, so we combined our patrol to knock crime down.”
According to the campus police blotter, a large majority of the offenses cited were alcohol-related, such as illegal possession of alcohol by a minor and illegal consumption of alcohol by a minor.
“Every year we interact with students who consume alcoholic beverages,” Smith said. “This is especially true of incoming freshmen. Now that we patrol off-campus locations, we encounter more students who consume alcoholic beverages.”
Underage students who are caught drinking by the University Police run the risk of being arrested, processed, assigned a court date and released, Smith said.
Some students have theories about the increase in alcohol consumption.
Ariel Hamilton senior, communications-media studies major said she believes it has to do with the beginning of the year.
“People want to party and celebrate the new year especially students new to NIU,” Hamilton said. “That fun often includes drinking.”
Smith said students who drink illegally need to keep something in mind.
“Depending on the alleged crime, students may be banned from the residence halls, from campus and/or suspended from the university,” he said.
The Office of Community Standards and Student Conduct, formerly Judicial Affairs, has each dormitory handling every offense case by case.
The office will be imposing educational sanctions on a case by case basis to deter students from making the same mistakes, said Larry Bolles, director of Community Standards and Student Conduct.
“The university is dedicated to taking an educational approach to underage drinking,” Bolles said.