Students at 2012 Sun God concert
Unlike 2014's overdose demise of student Ricardo "Ricky" Ambriz, there were no reported deaths this year at UCSD's notoriously rowdy Sun God Festival, held on campus each May.
But despite attempts by administrators to clamp down, booze, drugs, and cheating at the event continue to bedevil officials on the sunny La Jolla campus.
"We saw a noticeable increase of cases relating to non-academic dishonesty specifically related to the Sun God Festival," says a newly released September report from the university’s Office of Student Conduct.
"The Office of Student Conduct received information that students were attempting to sell or purchase use of Campus Cards to gain entry into the Festival," according to the document. "We processed 45 such cases, up from two such cases during the previous academic year."
Being banned from next year's Sun God was part of the punishment meted out to the would-be cheaters.
"Students accepting responsibility or found responsible for attempting to sell or purchase a Campus Card for admission to Sun God normally received sanctions including one year of probation, completion of the Practical Decision Making Assessment and Reflection, and exclusion from the 2016 Sun God Festival."
"Me n my deputy dogg," wrote Snoop Dogg on his Instagram site
This year's star performer at Sun God was Snoop Dogg, a pot advocate who has just started “Merry Jane,” a new marijuana lifestyle website, but it was booze, the report says, that caused big problems at UCSD.
It wasn't supposed to turn out that way.
Two years ago a task force set up by the school paid $4500 to an academic consultant in an attempt to cope with the extreme drinking and dangerously drunken behavior.
Dr. Kim Fromme of University of Texas at Austin
"An internationally recognized expert on alcohol abuse among college students, Dr. Kim Fromme, professor of clinical psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, is serving as the task force consultant," said the November 2013 report by the group.
"Dr. Fromme spent a full day on campus in late September, and is scheduled to return in February.”
Rather than prohibiting alcohol, the task force came up with the idea of setting up a double-fenced, officially sanctioned drinking area on festival grounds.
"Providing a beer garden is a potential harm reduction strategy. By making beer available in a safe and controlled environment, event planners are able to reduce the perceived need by students to consume alcohol outside of the event, where over-consumption and other significant health and safety concerns may occur."
This year's numbers, though, indicate the idea didn’t deliver the anticipated results.
"We have seen an increased number of incidents involving students sent to detox facilities," says the September report.
"During 2014–15, there were 45 percent more students taken to detox than in 2012–13. Not surprisingly, 64.7% of students sent to detox in 2014–15 were documented during the Sun God Festival, similar to 2013–14."
According to the report, "Three-fifths (60.3%) of all Sun God weekend incidents involve students being admitted to the on-campus Detox Center. This is a 13 percent increase from 2014 and a 22 percent increase from 2013."
Says the document, "Overall, about 52 percent of all admittees were male, consistent with previous years. Interestingly and inconsistent with trends regarding gender and the student conduct process, more than half of all Level Two admittees were female."
The report continues, "About 75 percent of all 2015 Sun God incidents involved alcohol. Typically, 75 to 85 percent of Sun God incidents involve alcohol."
According to the document, "As has been previously shown, many of the students seen in the Center are not 'problem' drinkers but rather ones who have less experience drinking. Many students report they have had stressful mid-terms and projects and want to de-stress, have fun, and forget a stressful week."
Even excepting the yearly Sun God blowout, some other of the university’s numbers aren't pretty.
"There have been increased numbers of alcohol and controlled substance contacts in parking lots and roadways, failure to comply and obstruction with University officials (e.g. police officers), and probation status violations," according to the report.
"The number of alcohol-related policy violations increased nearly 10 percent from 2013–14."
In addition, "There was a significant increase of interim suspensions in 2014–15 after seeing only three in the previous four years combined."
Says the report, "Almost half of the nine interim suspensions this academic year involved alcohol intoxication with other behaviors (physical assault of University Officials or threats). Other interim suspensions involved conduct threatening the health or safety of others, battery, and possession/use of weapons. Six of the nine interim suspensions were upheld by the Hearing Officer while three were modified or removed."
Shoplifting was also an issue.
"A large number of the sanction reduction requests continue to involve the restitution charge assessed for theft from the UC San Diego Bookstore," says the report.
"In many cases, the Council of Provosts has decreased the charge because they determined it was disproportionate to the offense (e.g. $300 fine for taking a granola bar)."