No Increase in Campus Alcohol-Related Incidents, But…


A recent rumor among students about an alcohol-related altercation mid-October in family housing claimed that the incident ended with police arriving on the scene and a student being sent to the intensive care unit.

“No one was sent to the ICU,” said Carmen Henan, dean of students.

The IAIA campus crime statistics between 2013 and 2015 show that there has been very little in the way of actual reported violations, with listed campus disciplinary actions over alcohol being in the single digits, and only one arrest a year over the past four years.

However, there is reason to believe that many alcohol-related incidents on campus go unreported, said Blue Tarpalechee, student housing director.

A Recent Incident

According to Henan, in mid October, there was an incident in family housing involving a Santa Fe county police arrest. Several “jugs” of alcohol were confiscated.

The person arrested was not a student, but instead was an individual who had a relationship with someone on campus and was staying in family housing without permission from the housing department, said Henan.

After a period of disturbance, a student reported the situation to the housing department, she said. Then staff and security intervened.

After the incident, the involved students were asked, in accordance with IAIA policy, if they wanted to go to the hospital. One student said yes, but was quickly released from St. Vincent Hospital.

When an Incident Occurs

IAIA is a drug and alcohol-free campus, according to the Alcohol and Substance Abuse Policy. If any trace of said substances is found on campus, the holder will be subject to disciplinary action.

When the IAIA staff or security officer receives a report of alcohol in one of the dorms or in family housing, they will go to the residence in numbers of two or more and knock on the door, Henan said. If there is no response, then they will simply key the lock and enter the residence.

Tarpalechee said that a cursory search, in which the staff stay out of more personal effects, is conducted by what is normally a senior staff member and a junior staff member. If they find any prohibited substances, then they will conduct a more extensive search.

If any prohibited substances are found, Henan said that anyone in the room will be reported and subject to disciplinary action. Once this occurs the probationary process will begin. This process may include community service, mandatory AA meetings, and an assurance that if said student were to commit a second infraction, they would barred from living on campus.

A Report-Based System

“We are not lax on drugs and alcohol that we know of,” Henan said. “We can’t respond to the alcohol that we don’t know about. We really want our community to report problems.”

This speaks to the issue that IAIA faces when dealing with incidents of alcohol on campus. The staff does not want to run a system that might antagonize the students by consistently invading their privacy, Tarpalechee said.

On the other hand, they do need to enforce the rules to keep students safe on campus.

According to Henan, IAIA has made a compromise by using a report-based system. Faculty and staff are required to report anything they see, but students are not.

Incidents Falsely Reported and Unreported

The IAIA housing staff is keenly aware of the problems a report-based system has. First, there are false reports, according to Tarpalechee, which force the staff to weigh the credibility of reports, as well as their frequency, to try to avoid falsely searching a room. This is why they start with the cursory search first.

Second, reporting a peer to the authorities can be a daunting task for a student, according to Tarpalechee.

“Coming forward with information can be a gamble, socially,” he said. “We want to try to alleviate that by making sure that students know that they can always come to us, and we will strive to maintain anonymity.”

The staff and the students will need to work together in order to help curb the problem of alcohol on campus, he said.

Several students declined to comment on the subject, some saying they did not wish to involve themselves.


Featured Photo obtained at


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