Police focus on education

By Melissa Blake

University Police are using more alcohol education programs and less alcohol related arrests, though UP insists this is not a move to make NIU crime free, according to UP Lt. Matthew Kiederlen.

UP wants to be proactive rather than reactive, he said. The bottom line is young people are experimenting with alcohol. Kiederlen said he questions whether it is appropriate to put students in a position where one incident affects the rest of their lives.

“Is it a label we want to place on them?” Kiederlen said.

NIU saw 30 alcohol law violation arrests in 2003, a 53-percent decrease from 2002, and 553 non-arrest alcohol violations in 2003, a 55-percent increase from 2002, according to University Police records.

Alcohol law violations refer to alcohol arrests and include underage drinking and any other alcohol-related offense, such as possession. It does not include DUI, Kiederlen said. Non-arrest alcohol violations mean an individual has not been arrested but referred to the Judicial Office or counseling, he said.

One of the new options is the educational tool MyStudentBody.com. Instead of making an arrest, this gives officers the option of requiring students to complete the educational programs offered on the site, including learning about alcohol and its effects. But, this is not something UP monitors, and it is strictly voluntary, Kiederlen said. It is typically done in conjunction with something else. For example, if a student was asked to leave tailgating festivities for the day because of an alcohol incident, officers would also recommend the online program.

Those under 21 may not possess or consume alcoholic beverages, and those over 21 may bring sealed alcoholic beverages to the residence halls and consume them in the privacy of their own room, according to the 2004-2005 Guide Post. Students also can choose to live on alcohol-free floors.

Nicki Niziolek, a senior elementary education major and CA for Stevenson Towers, has 25 students on her floor.

Niziolek has not had too much trouble related to alcohol on her floor. There are a lot of upperclassman in Stevenson, so there is not much trouble, she said.

“I think we do a pretty good job with it,” she said. “We’re cracking down.”

There is an overall effort to make residents responsible for their actions, Niziolek said.

“The NIU police are doing an excellent job of making their presence known and doing rounds throughout the night on all the floors,” she said.

Niziolek said Stevenson has alcohol awareness as one of its key initiatives this semester.

Last week, Niziolek and her residents participated in a mock party to learn about safe partying.

Awareness is a major factor in keeping alcohol a non-issue in underclassman halls, said Leslie Baran, a junior meteorology major and CA in Douglas Hall. She oversees 50 residents and has had the UP simulate drunkeness with goggles, she said. Police usually do more programs than make arrests, she said. She has seen arrests if students are unruly or uncooperative, she said.

Anthony Cappetta, a junior math education major and Stevenson resident, would rather talk to his parents about alcohol programs.

“I’m not big on those [alcohol awareness programs],” he said.

Dorothy Domaleczny, a freshman marketing major and Lincoln Hall resident, has not attended alcohol awareness programs on her floor. She’s pretty aware of alcohol issues already, she said. And she personally does not know anyone who has attended programs.

“They can’t be effective if nobody’s going,” she said.

Freshman marketing major and Douglas Hall resident Jessica Simon is unaware of any programs in her hall. She also would not be interested in attending one.

“I already know the problems [associated with alcohol],” Simon said.

By this time, people know about alcohol and they’ve had it thrown at them throughout junior high and high school, said Karin Verschelde, a sophomore journalism and psychology double major and Stevenson resident. The educational programs probably would not be effective, she said.