San Luis Obispo Police Department data says that a high number of those arrested at student alcohol-related events are from out of town.
There are statistics and numbers for nearly every aspect of party life: What is the legal percentage of alcohol you can have in your bloodstream? When are San Luis Obispo’s quiet hours? How much alcohol constitutes a single drink?
While Cal Poly students might know the answers to these questions, there might be one lingering question: How many students get in trouble for alcohol and partying?
With the size of the party culture in both Cal Poly and San Luis Obispo, it can be difficult to measure who gets arrested and how many get arrested or receive violations. But with San Luis Obispo Police Department (SLOPD) data on alcohol and party-related arrests and citations, the picture becomes more clear.
The infamous Mardi Gras parties have all but stopped since the 2004 Mardi Gras riots. According to SLOPD Captain Chris Staley, it’s been quiet on that front for the past half-decade.
While students were active participants in the riots, Staley said at least half of those arrested were out-of-towners. Somewhere between 30 percent and 40 percent were Cal Poly students, he said.
These approximate percentages were based on numbers from a survey SLOPD conducted during the Mardi Gras events between 2002 and 2006. Whenever they would arrest a person, they would ask where they were from and determined if they were local or from out of town.
St. Patrick’s Day
Although St. Patrick’s Day is not as big as Mardi Gras once was, it still had its own problems.
Unlike past Mardi Gras events, St. Patrick’s Day arrests occurred mostly during the day.
According to Staley, a larger portion of these arrests tended to be Cal Poly students. He attributed this to how the event is more localized to the San Luis Obispo area.
“When it comes to St. Patrick’s Day, where people don’t come to town all that much, I’d say the percentage (of Cal Poly students) is quite a bit higher,” Staley said, “I would say it’s probably closer to 60 to 70 percent.”
Week of Welcome
Week of Welcome, a week dedicated to orienting Cal Poly freshmen to the campus, tends to get a lot of party action. This past year was especially active, Staley said.
“It’s a pretty busy time for us,” he said. “WOW Week, not necessarily this year, but the year before, got a lot of attention.”
According to SLOPD data for WOW 2012, 47 minors were found in possession of alcohol, 12 students were caught drunk in public and 11 citations for party noise ordinance citations were given.
Students did not usually party this much throughout the rest of the year.
SLOPD data compared the number of violations from WOW 2012 to a typical weekend in November of the same year. That weekend, three minors were caught with alcohol, 10 students were drunk in public and there were six party noise ordinance citations.
Staley said the spike in WOW violations can be partially attributed to students being released from their WOW activities early enough to consider going to an off-campus party. This heightened the chance of violations.
“Everybody got cut loose by 9 or 10 o’clock and the neighborhoods would just get completely impacted and flooded,” he said.
Andrene Kawai-Lenting, coordinator of Cal Poly’s New Student Programs, realized this.
Over the past few years, the New Student Program has attempted to prolong the WOW activities so the students do not have as much time to attend neighborhood parties. Instead of ending the programs by 9 p.m. or 10 p.m., they would end around midnight.
Staley said the change was beneficial; there did not seem to be as many issues during WOW 2013.
“I think we had less problems,” Staley said, “Overall, just kind of anecdotally from the officers working it, it didn’t look as impacted as years past.”