Among college campuses nationwide, SUNY New Paltz ranked No. 1 in drug arrests per capita for 2013, according to a recent report utilizing federal data.
And in terms of drug arrests at State University of New York branches, New Paltz wasn’t alone.
SUNY New Paltz ranked first with 105 on-campus arrests in 2013, or 13.9 arrests per 1,000 students. That’s a jump from 2012, when New Paltz had only 24 on-campus drug arrests.
“There’s no argument that it is higher than the average number,” said SUNY New Paltz University Police Chief David Dugatkin. “My officers were out and about a lot that year.”
Dugatkin said he believes that 2013’s 105 arrests will prove to be an anomaly and that 2014 will likely be closer to the average.
Of those arrests, the majority was for marijuana, but a small portion included arrests for narcotics and prescription drugs, the chief added.
On a campus like SUNY New Paltz, drug arrests are driven by a number of factors — from what police officers happen to observe on patrol, to what gets reported by Residence Life staff or students themselves. Those variables change each year.
New Paltz has a “No Second Chance” policy for drug use, which calls for expulsion for students caught with narcotics. Students found in possession of marijuana can be expelled on a second offense.
When Huffington Post broke the story last week, SUNY New Paltz’s ranking made state and national headlines. SUNY New Paltz spokeswoman Melissa Kaczmarek told Huffington Post that the college has a low rate of repeat offenders.
“There is never a drug citation on campus without a concomitant judicial action where it is made clear that offenders are putting their education at risk,” the spokeswoman said.
Chief Dugatkin noted that no change in enforcement or policy drove the heightened drug arrests in 2013. He also sees a bright side in those stats.
“The way I look at it, this is a good number,” the police chief said. “It shows that we’re doing our job.”
Other SUNY campuses make the list
Project Know, which published the list, is an anti-addiction webpage. They release their “Drugs on Campus” report each year by crunching available data from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education.
For the most part, rankings were similar from 2012 to 2013, with the exception of SUNY New Paltz, the report notes.
SUNY Oswego, SUNY Oneonta, SUNY Plattsburgh, SUNY Brockport, SUNY Fredonia, SUNY Geneseo and the University at Albany also placed in the Top 50 for on-campus drug arrests in 2013. For a look at the full Project Know report, head to https://www.projectknow.com/discover/drugs-on-campus-2014/.