For the past several weeks, the UNH campus had been buzzing with anticipation for the Avicii concert, which finally took place this past Saturday. As expected, many UNH students and other concert attendees were "hydrated" as Tom Brady might put it, but it is important to note that behavior like this is not unique to the UNH campus.
UNH police announced that 34 arrests were made at the concert. Many of the arrests were related to drugs and alcohol, which should be expected not because this is UNH, but because it was A) a concert and B) it was located at a college campus. It is also important to note that due to New Hampshire's internal possession law, arrest numbers are often higher than at schools located in other states. For example, when SCOPE brought rapper Wiz Khalifa to UNH last year, there were 48 arrests made on campus that night, as opposed to only two at the same show the night before at the University of Rhode Island.
These statistics are misleading. While one may argue that they show UNH has more disruptive and out of control students, the statistics actually reflect more on New Hampshire's strict alcohol consumption laws. An internal possession violation in New Hampshire will result in an arrest, while it would only result in a citation in other states.
This misleading stat is similar to the "study" done by The Daily Beast last year that ranked UNH as the "Druggiest School in the Country." The Daily Beast used the number of arrests related to drugs as their major statistic. High arrest numbers can also be attributed to UNH's zero tolerance policy and New Hampshire's drug laws. For example, possession of certain amounts of marijuana in Massachusetts or Vermont will only result in a citation, while any amount results in an arrest in New Hampshire.
While that means UNH has more arrests for marijuana than other schools, it does not mean that UNH students are using drugs more than others. UNH students simply get in more trouble for it.
If that study were to be done accurately, it would need to include citations issued for drug use along with the arrest numbers. In a way, it is kind of amusing because UNH is only being labeled as a top drug school because our policy is so strict. It is also important to note that the arrest numbers do not separate UNH students from non-students. Many of the biggest party weekends at UNH, including Homecoming, Halloween and Spring Climax, are also the biggest weekends for non-UNH students to come to our campus.
In fact, if you compare the statistics provided by The Daily Beast with statistics from UNH Health Services, UNH students actually use marijuana at a lower rate than the statewide average for 18-25 year olds. The Daily Beast listed New Hampshire's statewide average as 29.21 percent for the month prior to the survey and 41.54 percent for the year prior. Last year, UNH Health Services said that only 27 percent of UNH students admitted to using marijuana on the Housing surveys.
You are probably wondering by now why I am bringing all of this up. I feel that whenever stories break about UNH and illegal activities, it only dampens our school's reputation.
Following the announcement that 34 people were arrested (Update: of which only 14 were UNH students) at the Avicii concert, many local papers, including Foster's Daily Democrat, the New Hampshire Union Leader, the Nashua Telegraph, and even Boston.com ran brief stories. (Then again, has the Union Leader ever written anything positive about UNH?) Many of these write-ups also mentioned the fire at the salt shed as if there is evidence that the two were connected. While this is possible, it seems highly unlikely because the fire was called in at 7:30 p.m., when the concert was already underway.
When large concerts and events come to college campuses you should expect students and non-students to be arrested for drugs and alcohol – those come with the territory. However, we should not allow the few people who went too far, who may or may not even be UNH students, to hurt the reputation of this campus. UNH is already known as a party school, but once you attend it, you realize that it really isn't any different than most schools, especially public state schools for that matter.
Stay classy, not UMassy.