The University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh is the No. 1 college in the U.S. for alcohol-related arrests, according to a study by the Drugs on Campus Project, while the State University of New York at Oneonta came in first for illicit drug arrests. The report listing the 50 postsecondary schools in the United States with the highest number of drug and alcohol-related arrests per 1,000 students was released by rehabs.com. The project also studied the number of alcohol-related deaths of college students.
The numbers were compiled using statistics from the Campus Safety and Security database released by the Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE). Four schools in the University of Pennsylvania system have the dubious honor of placing in the top 10 for alcohol-related arrests. Commenting on the reason for the study, Drugs on Campus Project head Jon Millward told Business Insider: “We wanted to find interesting data that’s been underexplored.” According to Millward, the information was downloaded from the OPE’s database for the 7,000 colleges in the nation, then narrowed down to those with more than 5,000 students. This brought the number to 1,000 colleges.
Drugs on Campus Project Rankings
As the report notes, schools that place high on one or more of these lists do not necessarily have more significant drug and alcohol problems than other schools. For example, the University of Wisconsin has responded to the report by pointing out that it has developed effective policing for drug and alcohol violations that helps it nab a higher percentage of offending students. The UW system has full, independent police departments for each campus, and a policy of automatically issuing citations rather than warnings to students found in violation of school alcohol and drug policy. Another consideration is that the data does not include student arrests that occurred off campus. If all substance-related arrests of currently enrolled students in the surrounding areas were added to on-campus arrests, it might significantly change the overall picture for some colleges and universities.
Comparing Rankings to State Drug, Alcohol Use
The report also used the data to compare the drug- and alcohol-related arrests on college campuses in each state with drug use and binge drinking statistics among all people ages 18 to 25 in each state. There were significant differences between the two sets of data, with some states that reported a high number of drug and alcohol arrests among students showing lower rates of binge drinking and drug use among all residents aged 18 to 25, and vice versa. Of the top 10 states on the list of campus alcohol arrests, only four are also in the top 10 for statewide binge drinking. The differences between statewide drug use and on-campus drug crimes are more marked. There are only three states that appear in the top 10 on both lists, and many other states move a significant number of spots. For example, Wyoming is in the top 20 percent of on-campus drug arrests, but in the bottom 20 percent when it comes to statewide drug use. There are different ways to interpret these variations. Schools with a high number of alcohol or drug offenses in states that also have high rates of drug use and/or binge drinking may argue that the statewide alcohol or drug culture is as much to blame for substance use as the on-campus culture. On the other hand, schools that appear on these lists that are located in states with low binge drinking or drug use may take this as a signal that effective policing or some other factor is contributing to their high ranking.