From alcohol violations to vandalism, younger students are charged with campus crime more often than their older counterparts in recent years.
Central Michigan University Police reported 274 cases involving 18 and 19-year-old students from July 2012 to Jan. 24, 2014, according to data from Central Michigan University police Lt. Cameron Wassman. Of those cases, 172 were involving alcohol.
Wassman said one of the reasons for the higher numbers of younger offenders might be because they aren’t aware of the laws.
“Some of the freshman students that come here may not be as educated as they need to be,” he said. “That’s something we like to do as a police department. To educate all our students on not drinking until you’re 21, or you can’t violate this law or that law.”
Students moving off campus as they get older is another reason the number of crimes on campus are higher for younger students, Wassman said.
On-campus CMU students are broken down into 3,903 freshmen, 3,855 sophomores, 4,115 juniors and 5,898 seniors. Of the 4,976 students living in residence halls on campus, 2,600 are freshmen, 1,970 are returners – made up of sophomores, juniors and seniors – and 406 are transfer students, according to the Office of Residence Life.
Older students might more commonly hide items that could get them in trouble, Wassman said, or they could be decreasing usage of drugs and alcohol as they grow more mature.
“It’s a combination of all those things,” Wassman said. “It’s hard to measure somebody’s maturity level. It’s hard to measure how well people hide things. In our experience, people learn those things.”
Police are not the only people who notice which age group tend to get in more trouble at CMU. Melissa Kleinow, a 22-year-old Carlton junior, works at the front desk of Saxe, Herrig and Celani halls, where students of varying ages live.
Kleinow said she often notices younger-intoxicated students from her post during the night shift.
“I can see people that come in; it’s normally the younger students (intoxicated),” Kleinow said. “It’s usually them because they’re new to college, and they’re not used to being away from home.”
Cierra Inscho, an 18-year-old Rochester freshman, said she can understand why younger students could be more likely to get in trouble, but that doesn’t mean they don’t understand the laws.
“It depends on how much knowledge you have, and if you’re one of those reckless people,” she said. “I’m in a sorority here that has rules with drinking, so we know what’s right and what’s wrong. It’s because we’re younger and we’re like ‘the freshmen’ in college instead of being 21. They’re allowed to drink and stuff like that, but we’re more rebellious and out of control.”
University Editor Ben Solis and Editor-in-Chief Justin Hicks contributed to this article.