CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - Coastal Carolina University's dean of students Travis Overton said the school takes a hard stance on alcohol use on campus, which could be one reason why a recent report found CCU leads U.S. colleges in the number of alcohol arrests and disciplinary actions per 10,000 students.
"We do very aggressively monitor those situations and document them all," said Dean Travis Overton. "I think it's very reflective of our transparent approach."
ProjectKnow found CCU reported 1,070 arrests and disciplinary actions related to alcohol per 10,000 students, more than any other school this group looked at for this report, which included four-year, non-profit colleges with more than 10,000 students that receive federal funding for student aid.
The report used statistics from the Office of Post-Secondary Education, which colleges are required to provide.
"We want to be very upfront and transparent about the fact that being a college campus means we can be susceptible to this and we want to make sure that we are addressing it and being consistent," Overton said.
However, are more students getting in trouble at CCU because more students are drinking than at other colleges, or because there are more being disciplined for it?
"I do think it's reflective of our stance of documenting and appropriately following up on incidents," Overton said.
Overton said first and second year students are required to live on campus, meaning incidents they could be involved in will be dealt with by CCU officials.
Additionally, Overton said CCU documents every incident and every person involved, and those are the numbers provided to the Office of Post-Secondary Education, not the final numbers of actual violations.
"There could be processes at other institutions where the process of documentation is different," he said. "It could mean when someone responds they may talk to the group first before they document it. For us, we do document everything."
Overton also said he thinks the population of the schools also might factor into the rankings.
"For the alcohol referral numbers, I noticed that the top five schools, the campus population of those schools is somewhere between 10,000 and 14,000, most of them centering around the 10,000 number," he said. "So I believe that shows you something about schools our size. I believe the cut-off, statistically, of where they fell with taking the 10,000 out and stopping at the 10,000, it does kind of begin to shift those numbers to where it may be higher on the end of schools that are on the lower end of that number versus schools that may be on the higher end."
The report draws the conclusion that wet campuses have higher crime rates than dry campuses. It classifies CCU as a wet campus, but Lee Carter, the associate director for alcohol and drug prevention and services, said the university doesn't necessarily label itself as such.
She said alcohol policies look different everywhere, so there isn't an agreed-upon definition in the field of a wet campus.
At CCU, Overton said students of legal drinking age can drink at limited times at events, such as tailgates, and if all students in an apartment are 21 years old or older, then they can apply to be able to drink in the apartment.
He said the school doesn't get a lot of those applications because there aren't many apartment residence halls that have students that age.
CCU students go through a program called AlcoholEdu before they get to campus. Then, alcohol awareness education continues in their first-year experience classes, according to Overton.
Carter said posters are up around the school with statistics from surveys of students about alcohol consumption and safe drinking practices.
She said the surveys have found the majority of CCU students use designated drivers and don't binge drink, meaning they don't consume more than four drinks in a sitting, which is when she said negative consequences are more likely to occur.
Related Link: Project Know's report on Consumption and Crime on Campus