Drug arrests rising at Iowa State


Rashah McChesney

Columnist Titus believes Washington and Colorado are on the right track by legalizing distribution of recreational marijuana and Iowa is missing out on tax revenue. 

Charles O'Brien

During the past five years, Iowa State has seen an increase in an illegal activity which has more than doubled.

According to an annual statistics sheet provided by the ISU Department of Public Safety, the number of drug/narcotic violation arrests by ISU Police has risen 282 percent from 51 arrests in 2008 to 144 in 2012.

Arrests pertaining to drug violations have been on a steady incline over the five year span, with 51 arrests in 2008, 61 arrests in 2009, 104 arrests in 2010 and 100 arrests in 2011. Arrests jumped up to 144 in 2012.

“The increased number of officers could be helping increase the number of drug charges and so could our increased student population,” said Jerry Stewart, director of the Department of Public Safety at Iowa State.

Stewart says that the majority of cases are marijuana related. In the last two years, they have seen a marked increase in the number of prescription drug cases. Along with prescription drugs and marijuana, ISU Police have seen more synthetic drugs creeping into the Iowa State system with drugs such as K-2 and bath salts.

Stewart pointed out that hard drugs like cocaine and heroin have not been found on campus during his time at Iowa State. He said that ISU Police has worked with the Central Iowa Drug Task Force in order to keep these hard drugs off campus.

“Anecdotally, the vast number of charges has stemmed from reports from people living in the residence halls,” Stewart said. “They also come from other sources, but we have seen a lot of calls from students.”

Another trend Stewart says they have noticed is the increase of people operating vehicles while intoxicated under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

“We are finding more substances on people, in their car or in their system while making these stops,” Stewart said.

Assistant Dean of Students Michelle Boettcher believes that the increasing number of marijuana use on campus is due to cultural changes and also accredits it to the increasing student population.

“This increase is showing a different level of use. It shows also a different social perception of drug use,” Boettcher said. “Some states are legalizing marijuana, and it makes people question the law here in Iowa.”

The judicial affairs in the Dean of Students Office have their own data which supports the increasing number of drug arrests at Iowa State.

From July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012, there were 438 total violations of student disciplinary action, which is the policy pertaining to alcohol and drug possession on campus.

Since July 1, 2012 there have been 491 total violations of the same policy. This number is expected to continue to grow until the cutoff date of June 30, 2013.

Most of these violations deal with alcohol, but the combined data still mirrors the ISU Police drug arrest upswing.

Currently alcohol and drugs like prescription drugs and marijuana are treated similarly by judicial affairs; the severity of the violation increases depending on the quantity. Whether or not the person has a scale and if the person has an excessive amount of cash which implies that the person is dealing.

Boettcher stated that judicial affair only deals with about two or three major drug cases a year, the rest tend to be minor violations. Boettcher also stated that expulsion of a student due to drugs is very rare, with no expulsions coming in the past three years related to drugs.

“This increasing issue is something we need to be aware of and keep tabs on at Iowa State,” Boettcher said.