UMass Amherst Reports Decline in Off-Campus Student Misbehavior

AMHERST, Mass. – University of Massachusetts Amherst officials say they are encouraged by the most recent student Off-Campus Conduct Report, and they attribute the good news to ongoing collaborative efforts with the Town of Amherst and others to address concerns and reduce incidents of student misbehavior off campus.

Compiled by the Dean of Students Office, the report covers off-campus violations of the university’s Code of Student Conduct reported in the Town of Amherst from July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017.

 Compared with the previous year, there was a 39 percent decrease in incidents, from 232 to 141. The number of individual students involved in incidents declined 32 percent, from 307 to 206.

The Dean of Students Office meets weekly with Amherst Police to review arrests and citations and to track off-campus violations of the Code of Student Conduct. After reviewing the cases, the university may issue sanctions ranging from a reprimand to expulsion. Other sanctions include counseling, housing restrictions, reflection papers and suspensions.

As in recent past years, the most common offense was unlawful possession or use of alcohol. The most common sanction was participation in the BASICS program, which is designed to reduce risky behavior and the harmful consequences of alcohol abuse.

Enku Gelaye, vice chancellor for student affairs and campus life said, “We are delighted that over the past four years the trend is a clear reduction in off-campus violations. This is no accident. Our party registration program, in which the Off-Campus Student Center mentors students in responsible behavior and helps them register gatherings with Amherst Police, was an immediate success in reducing noise complaints.

“The ongoing partnership for complaint response and educational outreach led by Eric Beal, neighborhood liaison from the university’s Office of External Relations and University Events, and Bill Laramee, Amherst Police Department neighborhood liaison officer, continues its success with the support of university and town officials, landlords and residents.”

Gelaye noted that total incidents decreased from 367 in 2013-14 to 141 in the most recent report, a reduction of 62 percent.

She also cited the low number of students who appeared for a second violation –­ 6 percent in 2015-6 and 5 percent in 2016-17. “The low number shows that our program of sanctions helps students understand that misconduct has consequences, and adulthood means being responsible for one’s actions,” she said.

Among students involved in off-campus incidents, the percentage living off campus was virtually unchanged from the previous year: 69 percent in 2015-16 and 68 percent in 2016-17.

The gender makeup shifted slightly, from 78 percent male to 73 percent male.

In 2015-16, 91 percent of the cases resulted in sanctions. That declined to 81 percent in 2016-17.

In the same period, suspensions declined from 24 to 17; deferred suspensions from 52 to 23; and expulsions from three to none.

In both years, 92 percent of cases were resolved in two months or less. Most were resolved in the first month, although that percent dropped from 85 to 70.

While focused on Amherst, the current report includes 15 incidents for which the off-campus location was not recorded or which involved online activity.