UTSA was named the 49th “druggiest college” in the nation by American news reporting and opinion website, The Daily Beast.
The ratings were prompted by steadily increasing national drug use statistics on college campuses and publicized drug arrests at Columbia University, San Diego State University and The University of North Carolina.
UTSA Chief of Police Steve Barrera said “I would imagine that our situation here would be very similar to that of other universities of our size. Obviously it is illegal and we take it very seriously. We intervene when drugs are involved, and we try to keep our campuses as drug free as possible.”
The Daily Beast ranked schools based on prevalence of drugs on campus and arrests per capita. They used statistics from a student review database, The College Prowler, as well as data from the Department of Health and Human Services 2009 National Survey on Drug Abuse and the U.S. Department of Education.
The website assigned UTSA a letter grade of “B”, citing 114 on-campus arrests for drug violations in 2009.
Barrera said “based on the UTSA police department’s records, there has been a nine percent decrease in overall arrests since 2009 for both the main and downtown campuses.” He explained that UTSA’s approach to addressing drug use on campus is to take preventative measures early-on. He is hopeful that statistics will continue to follow this trend of improvement in coming years.
“Our experience has taught us that if you address drug problems at the lower level, it is an effective way of preventing more serious offenses that may occur later,” Barrera said.
Some students were surprised by UTSA’s rank in The Daily Beast.
“There have been times when a person in class will smell like they might have been using marijuana, but that’s the extent of what I’ve seen,” senior communication major Eli Longoria said. “I wouldn’t say that UTSA has a drug problem, and I’ve never had anyone tell me that we have a reputation for it.”
Junior fine arts major Amber O’Halligan says that she has not witnessed or heard about any drug related incidents while attending UTSA.
“I’ve gone to school here for three years and have not once heard of any [drug] problems on campus,” junior business major Pedro Webber said. “That’s surprising to me to hear that UTSA was on that list.”
The penalties for individuals found guilty of violating UTSA’s anti-drug policy can include criminal prosecution, disciplinary action by The Office of Student Judicial Affairs, suspension of rights and privileges and suspension from the university.
In accordance with The Drug Free School and Communities Act of 1989, UTSA is required to adopt and implement programs that prevent the unlawful possession, use or distribution of illicit drugs and alcohol.
The UTSA Health Services website confirms that the university recently received a federal grant to “promote awareness of HIV, alcohol and other drug abuse.”
SHADES (Sexual Health Alcohol and Drug Education for Students) is a campus organization that works to inform and empower students through peer educators, presentations and various programs that promote healthy life choices.
“This [program] will contribute to an increase in academics, social success, retention and graduation rates, and will assist UTSA students in becoming more productive members of our global community,” Assistant Director of Student Health Services Howaida Werfelli said.
In addition to SHADES, UTSA also offers BARR (Be a Responsible Roadrunner) and BASICS (Brief Alcohol Screening Intervention for College Students).
“BARR Peer Education programs provide educational presentations on these topics and host a large number of alcohol-free late night programming,” Werfelli said. “BASICS is a one-on-one harm reduction program that addresses individuals’ alcohol and drug use. It consists of multiple sessions and has proven effectiveness when it comes to alcohol and drug abuse reduction.”