Uptick in campus drug, alcohol violations reported in 2019 Clery Report


New public safety chief Donna Grossi and other officers can be found on campus in the Rea Garage.

Gena Carter

The statistics for substance abuse violations at Chatham University in 2019 more than doubled from the previous year, according to the latest Clery Report.

The Clery Report includes crime statistics involving Chatham students on the Shadyside and Eden Hall campuses, nearby public properties and non-campus properties, including Graham Field in Wilkinsburg and Highmark Stadium in Station Square. The Clery Act was passed in 1990 after Lehigh University student Jeanne Clery was raped and murdered by another student in her dorm room.

Colleges and universities, in adherence to the Clery Act, must publish an annual report that contains three years of campus crime statistics by Oct. 1 of the following year. The deadline for the 2019 report was pushed back due to COVID-19, and Chatham released its findings on Nov. 30.  

In 2019, Chatham’s Shadyside campus had eight drug law violations and 31 liquor law violations that were referred for disciplinary action. These numbers were higher than the previous year, with Chatham in 2018 seeing only four and 12 referrals, respectively. A story on the 2018 Clery Report can be found here

In addition to the increase in drug and liquor law violations, Chatham’s 2019 statistics included an illegal weapons possession that was referred for disciplinary action. There were no instances of illegal weapons possession in the previous two years.

Chatham in 2019 also had five instances of sexual assault and one instance of dating violence.

No crime has been reported at Eden Hall over the past three years.


Shadyside- On campus Property

Crimes or Violations 2017 2018 2019
Sexual Assault- Rape 2 2 3
Sexual Assault- Fondling 1 0 2
Dating Violence 1 2 1
Domestic Violence 1 0 0
Stalking 2 0 0
Arson 1 0 0
Illegal Weapons Possession 0 0 1
Drug Violations 4 4 8
Alcohol Violations 7 12 31


The report states that 28 of the 31 alcohol violations in 2019 were in residential facilities (the five dorms and five apartment complexes). All of the drug violations and the illegal weapons possession also were in residential facilities.

The Clery Report is a collaborative effort across multiple departments, including Residence Life and Pittsburgh City Police Department. Chatham police (CUPD) does not interact with everyone who reports incidents.

CUPD includes the Chief of Police, Valerie Townsend, the assistant vice-president, 14 full-time officers and four part-time officers. One of those full-time officers is police Sergeant Donna Grossi, who has been employed at Chatham for two years.

Sgt. Grossi said that the illegal weapons possession was handled by Residence Life, not the police department. She could not give specifics on the instance.

“I know that in the event of narcotic drugs and violent crimes, police are always contacted,” Sgt. Grossi said. While Sgt. Grossi did not want to speculate as to what the illegal weapons possession was, she did say that “illegal weapon” could also include University policy violations.

An alcohol violation can include a wide-range of actions, such as the manufacturing of liquor, furnishing liquor to a minor or using a vehicle to transport illegal liquor, among other things. A drug violation includes the manufacturing, possession and/or sale of drugs and covers a variety of substances, including cocaine, opium and synthetic narcotics such as methadone and marijuana.

“Narcotics are not prevalent on this campus,” Sgt. Grossi said. 

While the CUPD can’t divulge specifics about cases, Sgt. Grossi explained that, in general, a lot of the drug instances on campus are marijuana related. The alcohol violations are mainly related to underage drinking, she said.  

The spikes in violations may have something to do with a change in Pennsylvania law. In November 2018, Pennsylvania created a Safe Harbor law to protect people who report and seek medical attention for someone else partaking in drug or underage alcohol consumption.

This safe harbor gives criminal immunity to those who report incidences of underage drinking, providing that they identify themselves and stay with the victim until help arrives. Immunity is granted even if the person calling for medical attention also is engaged in the same illegal activity. It’s possible this law change made people more inclined to report these incidents rather than reflecting a true increase in drug and alcohol issues on campus.

A public safety officer is on call 24 hours a day at Chatham to respond to reports of any urgency. To report an emergency, call 911 or the CUPD at 412–365–1111. To report a non-emergency, call the CUPD at 412–365–1230. The non-emergency number may also be used to request an escort service for those who feel unsafe walking on campus for any reason.

No drug, alcohol or illegal weapons violations resulted in arrest at Chatham in 2019. Situations are viewed on a case-by-case basis, but not all incidents are brought to the police department. Students may also report incidents to other areas of campus, like Residence Life, if they do not want to pursue criminal charges or if they are uncomfortable talking with law enforcement.

One-time offenses are situational. 

“Chatham … is attempting to look out for the best interest of students,” Sgt. Grossi said. Underage drinking violations may affect students as they pursue employment. “I feel like [Chatham] take[s] a lot of factors into consideration, and things are referred for disciplinary action … versus an immediate arrest based on those situations.”

Campus police enforces all Pennsylvania state laws: Title IX offenses, which include relationship violence and sexual misconduct; drug and alcohol violations; thefts; hate crimes; assault; and any other criminal offenses that may take place on campus.

All officers must attend mandatory training sessions related to police work, and they must be trained in the use of firearms and qualify annually. Some officers are certified crime-prevention officers through the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.

Victims of sexual assault, sexual harassment and dating violence may choose to call the CUPD to file a voluntary or confidential report. A confidential report allows people to choose to have the CUPD report the incident without revealing their identity, as detailed in Title IX and in compliance with the Clery Act.

Victims may also report relationship violence and sexual misconduct to other people on campus, such as student health or counseling services. Student Health Services can be reached at 412-365-1714. Counseling services can be contacted at 412-365-1282 or [email protected].

Sgt. Grossi was recently promoted to the opportunity to teach the Sexual Harassment, Assault and Rape Prevention (SHARP) classes. These classes are free to community members and teach students preventative tactics and measures to help in these instances. 

Sgt. Grossi and Officer Brian Butler “hope to improve upon the instruction that was already there and work more closely with students and Residence Life about their concerns,” Sgt. Grossi said.

The full Clery Report can be viewed on the Chatham website.