UPD numbers don’t indicate an actual problem at FGCU
The Letter to the Editor titled “UPD Cares” provides useful data on the number of DUIs, notices to appear and traffic citations FGCU students have received this semester, as compared to the numbers from 2014.
It’s important for students to be aware of these numbers as a reminder to drive safely and follow traffic rules — and common sense.
But, I would like to remind any reporters who read this Letter to the Editor to use those numbers responsibly. In September 2014, FGCU student Austin Vonckx died due to a medical condition. His death was not related to alcohol. Several days later, former FOX 4 reporter Julian Glover wrote an article called “Does FGCU have a drinking problem?” It’s an article that FGCU journalism students know well because Professor Judson Cribbs uses it as an example of terrible journalism in his classes.
The first problem with this article is its headline. It’s clickbait. It’s a question that assumes the answer is yes. “Does FGCU have a drinking problem?” Would Glover or the headline writer be asking this question if they didn’t think so?
The headline is merely the setup for Julian’s shoddy journalism. He continues the story by insinuating that Vonckx, whose toxicology reports were not complete at the time, died because of the consumption of alcohol. He didn’t; medical examiners determined he died of pulmonary edema. Glover pulls some numbers from FGCU’s public campus safety guide — 839 infractions sounds dangerous, right? He never defines a drinking problem. Is one drink a problem? Are two? Glover doesn’t know. He just likes to make big assumptions.
I am throwing poor Glover under the bus for the sake of other local media outlets. It’s easy to be a bad journalist. It’s easy to take a tragedy and manipulate it into website hits. Don’t look at the UPD numbers and run to the news director for a pat on the head like you’ve found something. Do your research. Be a journalist.
In 2014, FGCU’s police department issued 10 DUIs, 488 traffic citations and 852 warnings. During the same period of time, University of North Florida’s police department issued six DUIs, 711 traffic tickets and 2,327 warnings. UNF has 16,187 students. FGCU has 14,673 students. The two universities have similar policies regarding alcohol on campus. So, in 2014, FGCU reported four more DUIs than UNF.
About 4.4 percent of UNF students received a traffic ticket, while 3.3 percent of FGCU students received a traffic citation — assuming no student received more than one of each. 14.4 percent of UNF students received a traffic warning, while 5.8 percent of FGCU students did.
What does this mean? It does not mean that FGCU has a drinking or driving problem. It does not mean that UNF has a drinking or driving problem.
In fact, if you ask an FGCU student, you might find that FGCU is a relatively calm school.
“When it comes to students drinking and doing drugs, I think that we are much lower than other universities,” senior Katilynn Orlandi said. “We are nowhere near a party school, and I don’t believe that we party as much as other students do. FGCU is a very calm school.”