On Wed., Sept. 15, three Grinnell College students were arrested in Loose Hall for possession of an illegal substance. Campus Security was notified of the smell of marijuana. Security contacted the Grinnell Police Department, who arrived and made the subsequent arrests.
“We received a complaint. That’s how we usually get there, is if we’ve got a complaint,” said Director of Campus Security Stephen Briscoe. “We respond, make the determination of where [the smell] was coming from and whether the police should be involved, because we have a no tolerance policy for drugs.”
Briscoe believes that in the future, similar situations could be resolved by self-governance.
“If someone were to go to that person and say ‘you’re violating the rules, not only the rules but you’re violating the law and that is not acceptable behavior,’ it would be good if students got involved,” Briscoe said. “If the person doesn’t stop it they need to get Security involved and Student Affairs involved and maybe we can do something quell that kind of behavior.”
The arrested students will go through the Student Conduct Process, which will likely consist of appearing collectively as a group before Judiciary Committee or the College Hearing Board. Their punishments will be assessed on a personal basis.
“The Conduct Process is meant to be educational, not disciplinary or punitive, and it is meant to be progressive,” said Dean of Students Travis Greene. “So your first time offense, there’s a response; you do it again, there’s going to be a heightened response.”
The last student to be arrested for possession of marijuana on campus was suspended for one year. Greene says it is unlikely this will occur for any of the individuals as long as it is their first-time offense.
“When students get suspended for drug violations, oftentimes it is because they’ve already had past incidents, maybe they’ve been on probation, maybe they’re on warning,” Greene said. “They certainly know the risks involved of engaging in certain behaviors.”
The arrest comes amid a series of disciplinary actions taken against the Grinnell College student body, including smoking violation tickets given by Campus Security and Minor In Possession of Alcohol (MIP) citations by the police department.
Dylan Naylor ’13 was cited for MIP on Wed., Sept. 8. He was sitting on Cleveland Beach with friends passing around a bottle of bourbon when Officer Dan Johnson came through on a bicycle patrol.
“Sitting on the picnic table in front of Cleveland, for probably ten minutes just passing a bottle around, ten or twelve of us, and then a bike cop came up from behind the cherry picker thing and made one of us take responsibility for it,” Naylor said. “Gave me a 300 dollar ticket.”
Despite being cited, Naylor does not think there has been any effort to increase police presence on campus.
“That is the only time I’ve seen a bike cop so far this fall,” Naylor said. “And I only saw one once or twice last year.”
Travis Greene agrees, saying that the events of this fall do not appear to be out of the ordinary.
“It seems like every fall this is sort of the situation,” Green said. “I can tell you from the top down, there has not been a push whatsoever to have increased police presence.”’
Regardless, he realizes that the unclear role of police on campus may contribute to students’ unwanted encounters with the police.
“We’ve had conversations with Jody Matherly, the Chief of Police, from his perspective there are no more bike patrols than in the past, although we’re certainly hearing it from students that it feels like there is and if there is a way we can address those inconsistencies I think would be helpful for students,” Greene said. “You’re getting mixed messages where in certain situations it might be permissible [to drink outside] and others times it is not.”
Technically, students are not allowed to consume alcohol on campus anywhere besides residence halls, or during approved Harris Center events. However, certain events, including Grinnell Relays and Selah last spring, included approved outdoor consumption of alcohol.
One area where punitive measures have been intentionally intensifying by Campus Security is ensuring enforcement of the Iowa Clean Air Act. Since Sept. 1, Campus Security has issued 19 smoking citations. Briscoe explains the reasoning for the increased patrols.
“This year we’re getting a lot of people who are not paying attention to the smoking and the Grinnell PD has been given the task to enforce that law for our College. Now they could be over here a lot more,” Briscoe said. “Smoking [in illegal places] is one thing if we could get people to stop doing it, so the police don’t have to come in and enforce the law.”