In response to several recent acts of crime that have occurred around the campus area, the Student Government Association held a safety forum last Thursday night in the Phillips Autograph Library. The purpose was to address any concerns that students might have regarding campus security as well as explain what borough police are doing to curb alcohol related incidents. The forum included two presentations: one from the West Chester Borough Police regarding the state’s alcohol Source Investigation Project (S.I.P.) safety program and one from the university’s public safety department. According to Corporal Pam Bauman of the West Chester Police Department, 65 percent of crimes that occur after 8 p.m. are caused by alcohol abuse. In the West Chester area, these crimes have included sexual assaults, fights, rapes, public drunkenness and urination and vandalism. There have also been a number of fatalities in the area as a result of accidents and alcohol overdoses.
In a presentation which lasted about thirty minutes, Corporal Bauman and several other West Chester police officers discussed the state’s new plan to cut down on dangerous alcohol – related incidents in people ages 16 to 25 by issuing severe fines and jail time to those who provide alcohol to underage youths. Under the S.I.P.S. program, a person convicted of “furnishing alcohol to minors” could face a fine of up to $2,500 per occurrence and/or up to one year in prison. These consequences appear especially steep when compared to the $300 which the actual minor is charged for drinking illegally.
In addition to explaining the S.I.P.S. program, the police showed a wide range of graphic photos, case studies and videos with the intent of sending the message to students to always drink in moderation, look out for each other and stay in groups. Furthermore, students were advised to contact authorities in the event of an alcohol -related crises, regardless of feared consequences and especially if it involves lives in danger.
“We’re not here to try and convince you to stop drinking,” Bauman said, “because we know fully well that it is a futile effort nor is it our goal. However, what we are trying to do is convince you to stop drinking so much. If you attract the attention of the police, you will have problems, so your best bet is to police yourself.”
When asked about the number one sources of underage drinking, Bauman claimed that most of the fault lies in a slim number of private individuals most of whom are not part of any student Greek organizations. Nevertheless, SGA President Brad Williams, who supports the idea of taking action against sources of underage drinking and is a member of the Greek community himself, felt following the forum that members of fraternities and sororities should best watch who they serve from this point on.
“They (Greek leaders) should understand that this new policy is nothing to take lightly,” he said, “and, if handled foolishly, could potentially end Greek life here at West Chester.”
The forum also included a short lecture from Lieutenant Brill of West Chester Public Safety. The lecture was designed to re-teach the basic duties of public safety as well as bring out the extra security services they can provide to make students feel safer, including crime prevention and self defense classes as well as escort services.