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Police Target Students in Alcohol-Related Arrests

By Tony Kim

Over the past three weekends, the Boston Police Department has arrested over 80 college students from Boston University and Boston College in the Allston-Brighton area. The BPD’s crackdown targeted underage drinking, using fake identification, and purchasing alcohol for minors.

Twenty-seven students were arrested on the weekend of September 9-10, and 54 during the weekend of September 16-17. Most incidents occurred at local bars, liquor stores and parties where students under 21 were found in possession of alcohol.

The latest crackdown by the Boston Police Department and the local universities is “nothing new,” said BU Spokesman Colin D. Riley. Since 1997, the first few weeks of each school year have been characterized by similar waves of student arrests. Referring to the BPD’s role, he said that “going back to October ’97, Captain Evans outlined his zero tolerance policy.”

This zero tolerance policy is outlined to all students in the area via flyers and orientation meetings which explain that underage drinking will not be tolerated. It has been enforced over the past few years with extra cruisers patrolling the Allston-Brighton area on the weekends during the first few months of the term.

This increased vigilance from the BPD and University officials is attributed to several reasons. John B. Dunn, spokesman for Boston College, said the crackdown is “clearly in the wake of the Scott Krueger incident.”

Riley said that “students [should] have the same expectations on campus and off campus.”

Arrests tied with housing problems?

From the perspective of residents, housing itself has become the main issue. Paul Berkeley, president of the Allston Civic Association and resident of the area, said that, although he lives closer to Harvard than BC or BU, the neighborhood “doesn’t have problems with Harvard students” because most of them live on campus.

“Most of the responsibility goes back to the institution ... the students are free to do anything. The atmosphere [off-campus] encourages them. On campus, their behavior would be more conforming,” Berkeley said.

With students comprising about one-third of the population in the Allston-Brighton area, residents can often be overwhelmed. It is difficult to find parking, and housing prices have gone up significantly because of demand.

The impact has been noticeable to residents. One particular example is Ashford Street. Five years ago, five of the ten residential houses were occupied by students and the other five by individual owners. Today, nine houses are occupied by students and one by an individual owner.

Both BU and BC are planning on building new housing on campus. At the request of the Boston Redevelopment Authority, BC is planning to build housing for 800 more students over the next five years. BU opened a dorm earlier this September on the Charles River, and according to The Boston Herald leads local colleges in the number of dorm beds with 9,614.

The housing situations at BC and BU are somewhat different to that of MIT. Although MIT does have many students living off-campus, off-campus MIT living groups are much more closely linked to the Institute than the apartments held by students at BC and BU. The number of MIT students living off-campus is also negligible compared to the numbers in the Allston-Brighton area.

Although the communities surrounding MIT have made complaints regarding their neighbors (predominantly noise), those problems have been resolved between the particular living group and the community member.