COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - The number of University of Missouri students referred for suspected alcohol violations doubled from 2008 to 2009, but officials said the numbers are known to fluctuate and part of the increase might be the result of better reporting on campus.
The number of students referred on suspicion of violating alcohol policies went from 430 in 2008 to 883 in 2009, according to the latest report on the issue. In 2007, 631 students were referred.
Kristen Temple, associate director of Residential Life, stressed that not all the referred students were found guilty of alcohol violations. Temple told The Columbia Daily-Tribune that she didn't know exactly what accounted for the increase, but turnover among Residential Life staff is high and newer employees might have been more vigilant about patrolling the halls.
"I think if anything, what this says is that Residential Life staff is not ignoring situations of concern in the residential halls," Temple said.
Three new residential halls opened in 2009, which meant more students were living on campus. The new halls have some suite-like rooms, where students might be more likely to try to sneak alcohol in because they're more private, Temple said.
Students found guilty of alcohol violations typically are referred to the Wellness Resource Center for alcohol education. A second violation triggers probation and a letter to parents. Students guilty of three violations are temporarily kicked out of campus housing.
Kim Dude, director of the Wellness Center, also said the increase in referrals might indicate stronger enforcement. That would be positive because tougher enforcement for alcohol violations typically results in less drinking, she said.
Campus police said 102 students were arrested for alcohol violations in 2009, down from 120 in 2008.
Off-campus groups also are turning attention to potential alcohol-related issues. A recent study of MU's fraternities and sororities cited alcohol as one of several concerns, and the Office of Greek Life has formed a task force to study the issue next semester.