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DRUG-RELATED offenses jump 275%

Student athletes allegedly involved in recent incident

Published: Monday, January 23, 2012

Updated: Friday, May 17, 2013 13:05


Special to The Prospector

The number of drug-related incidents reported on the UTEP campus has seen a dramatic increase over the last few years. Most of the incidents have occurred at Miner Village or Miner Heights, UTEP's student residential areas and involve possession of marijuana or narcotics paraphernalia.

The most recent incident, according to the UTEP Police crime log, occurred at 6:42 p.m. on Jan. 20. Officers responded to an apartment in Hueco Hall at Miner Village in reference to an odor of marijuana where narcotic paraphernalia was located. The crime log also states that the case resulted in an arrest. No other major details were released.

"I have smelt marijuana around the hall before. It bothers me because I am a student athlete and we get drug tested a lot, and it's always a fear that we won't be able to play if we come out positive," said Devin Miertshin, senior history major. "I don't know much about marijuana, I've never smoked it, but I do have a fear that if I smell it or something, I'm going to come out positive. It is a concern. The smell is coming from the bottom floor (of Hueco Hall at Miner Village) and this has happened a lot."

Two Miner Village residents, who wish to remain anonymous, said that three female student athletes were involved in a drug-related incident Jan. 20 at Hueco Hall. During the incident, four UTEP police arrived at room 106 in Hueco Hall after the smell of marijuana was reported.

"I was near by when I saw four police officers enter Hueco Hall in Miner Village. They were on the first floor near the 105-106 area. I didn't see any police enter the door, but I was near by and I smelled a seriously strong scent of marijuana, it was unmistakable," one of the residents said.

The two residents identified the athletes as women's basketball players Ryah Lacy, Chrishauna Parker and Gloria Brown. Lacy and Parker were suspended from the team before the Jan. 22 game against Houston. According to women's basketball head coach Keitha Adams, the two players were suspended for breaking team rules, but did not say the exact reason why they were suspended. As for the length of the suspension, Adams said "only time will tell." Following that game, Adams said that she "did not know" if both players would be at the team's next practice Jan. 24 and only commented that both "are suspended."

UTEP Athletics had no further comment about the situation.

The two residents said that Brown was at the scene, but left right away. As of the time this article was published, Brown has not been suspended from the team.

Venton Soder, a freshman kinesiology major who lives next door to where the incident occurred, said he has not had a problem with the players who live there and has not seen narcotics paraphernalia or smelled any marijuana coming from the room.

"From what I have seen, my neighbors are down to earth and don't cause a lot of problems, because they are on the basketball team and I'm sure they want to stay on the team," Soder said. "They always stay to themselves and every time I see them I say hi, and nothing seems weird or anything. I've never smelled anything or heard anything that would seem like an issue."

Parker has played in 17 of the 19 games this year, starting in eight of them. She was averaging 5.8 points and four rebounds in 17.5 minutes per game. The only other game Parker missed was a Nov. 19 home contest against Houston Baptist. Adams said she missed due to academic reasons but returned the following game Nov. 22 against UT-Pan American.

Lacy played in 13 games this season, averaging 1.8 points and 1.2 assists in 12.3 minutes per game. She has missed the last three games with a leg injury.

According to the 2011 Clery report, there were four drug-related cases reported in 2008, with one reported to have happened in the residential facilities. All four incidents resulted in arrests. The annual crime report is required due to the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, a federal mandate that requires any institution of higher education in the United States that participates in federal student aid programs to produce and distribute an annual report containing crime statistics and statements of security policy.

In 2010, the report shows that the number of drug-related incidents on campus increased to 15, with 13 reported to have happened in the residential facilities. Out of the 15 incidents, eight resulted in arrest with six of them at the residential facilities. Referrals to the UTEP students judicial system for sanctions were handed out to seven of the reported cases, which all happened at residential facilities.

More recently, UTEP Police campus crime logs show that from November 2011 to Jan. 20, 2012, there have been nine reported drug-related incidents that have taken place at Miner Village and Miner Heights.

Charles Gibbens, director of Housing Services, said department follows the UT System zero-tolerance policy, which includes drug-related incidents.

"In the dorms, we abide by the UT zero tolerance policy, which offenses include drugs, abuse, fighting or any physical altercations," Gibbens said. "If such things come up, we then call the police, then depending on the situation those individuals are then adjudicated by Ryan Holmes (assistant dean of students), who then calls in the student to research why the student committed the altercation and from there it depends on the case."

Gibbens said that each case is handled differently and when the university police are involved they handle the situation administratively or criminally.

"We work closely with the UTEP police department and every occasion that involves the police department is handled one of two ways: administratively or criminally," Gibbens said. "We handle these cases on a case-by-case basis because each one is different. Everything is about preserving life and safety of the students. We have had several occasions where a student has been removed from the dorms."

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