Starting this weekend, joint patrols by the UMass and Amherst police forces will be conducted on Friday and Saturday nights in Amherst neighborhoods, providing four additional officers who will be highly visible to deter unruly behavior and respond to residents’ concerns. The joint patrols will pay particular attention to the Fearing and Phillips streets neighborhood and the North Amherst area.
On April 4, the university will host a meeting of local landlords and property managers who will gather with university and town officials to coordinate steps to help manage student behavior this spring. Information will be shared about anticipated events on and off campus as well as on-campus programming.
On the night of April 5, the Campus and Community Coalition to Reduce High-Risk Drinking (CCC) will pilot an initiative to divert pedestrian traffic from Fearing Street and other residential streets to other walking routes, using the Baby Berk food truck, volunteers and signage to redirect students.
Two additional Amherst ambulances will be in service this weekend following the university’s commitment to cover additional staffing costs on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays this spring. The ambulances will address concerns that the town is left vulnerable when its ambulances are transporting intoxicated students from campus to Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton.
The Sober Shuttle, a bus funded and organized by students, will be transporting students from downtown Amherst to campus or their off-campus homes. Shuttles run Thursday through Saturday between 1-3 a.m. to supplement regular PVTA service.
Campus officials released an updated report April 2 on student discipline for off-campus incidents, noting that more than eight out of 10 students in cases reviewed this academic year have been found responsible and sanctioned for a violation of the Code of Student Conduct.
Dean of Students Enku Gelaye said, “We are sanctioning misbehaving students consistently, including suspensions, and moving students more quickly to deferred suspensions, which means they are on notice that one more violation results in immediate departure from the university. The message is clear: Bad behavior has serious consequences.”
The report covers the period from Sept. 1, 2012 through March 27, 2013. Overall, 519 students were involved in 348 incidents. In the most serious cases, such as violence against others, the university moved decisively to suspend eight students. Fifty-three students have been placed on deferred suspension.
Of the 456 students involved in cases completed to date, 375 (83 percent) received sanctions. Cases involving 63 other students remain in process. Most students cited in off-campus incidents are first-time offenders. There were 152 students (29 percent) involved in an off-campus incident who had at least one level 3 or 4 (more serious) incident in their history.
Gelaye noted that 63 percent of incidents were processed in less than one month, and 79 percent of incidents were processed in two months or less. The dean of students and her staff administer the code, and they meet weekly with the Amherst Police and receive reports of arrests and citations. The dean’s staff promptly reviews the evidence in each case. The standards of proof for deciding a matter is by a preponderance of the evidence. A student may request from the dean a written rationale for a conduct decision including how evidence was weighed and interpreted. Sanctions range from a reprimand to suspension and expulsion.
Meanwhile, as part of its campaign to improve public safety in the community this spring, the university will be engaged in a number of activities this week.