Number of University of Massachusetts students disciplined for off-campus misbehavior declines in past year

Last modified: Saturday, June 14, 2014
AMHERST — Fewer incidents in Amherst meant fewer University of Massachusetts students were disciplined because of their off-campus behavior during the recently completed academic year, according to a report compiled by the dean of students office. However, the number of students involved in major incidents remained almost the same, according to UMass.

Released Friday, the report, which covers Sept. 1 through May 12, shows a 21.6 percent decline in incidents, from 468 in 2012-2013 to 367 in 2013-2014, and a 31.6 percent drop in students facing disciplinary action for these incidents, from 637 to 436.

“We are encouraged by the decline of behavior incidents,” Enku Gelaye, vice chancellor for student affairs and campus life, said in a statement. “There are a variety of ongoing efforts to educate students about the importance of being good neighbors and the consequences of bad behavior.”

UMass spokesman Edward Blaguszewski said the decline came during a semester in which police made 55 arrests at the Blarney Blowout gatherings March 8. “The numbers, despite Blarney Blowout, were down,” he added.

The university’s statistics confirm what Amherst police officers observed, especially in the spring, when many weekends were cool and damp, and many students left town during the Easter and Patriots Day weekend, April 19 to 21.

This spring’s noise-related tickets, summonses and arrests dropped by 40 percent, from 40 to 24, from the same time period in 2013, and there was also a substantial drop in noise complaints made by residents, with police responses to these calls declining from 202 to 145. Police also saw open-container arrests and summonses go down from 58 to 32.

Even though the total number of incidents and students involved dropped, the most serious incidents, which lead to suspensions, deferred suspensions and expulsions for violations of the UMass code of conduct, remained almost unchanged, with 87 students involved this year. The previous year had 91 students involved in the most serious incidents.

The 2013-2014 academic year also had four expulsions, whereas there was just one student expelled the previous year.

According to the report, after reviewing the incidents, the university issued sanctions in 380 cases, or 82 percent of 461 reports, with 60 leading to no sanctions and 21 remaining in process.

In the previous academic year, sanctions were issued in 80 percent of the cases.

Another trend observed in the report was an uptick in involvement of students living on-campus causing problems off-campus. In 2012-2013, 27 percent of students involved in incidents lived in a UMass dormitory but this past year 40 percent resided on-campus.

Gelaye said UMass officials will continue to work with community partners in dealing with large-scale gatherings that lead to many of these incidents. The dean of students office tracks off-campus violations of the code of student conduct and representatives meet weekly with Amherst police to review arrests and citations. Sanctions through the code of conduct range from a reprimand to an expulsion.

In the latest report, 12 percent of the students had been involved previously in a similar incident, an increase from the 7 percent of repeat offenders in 2012-2013.