New crime statistics show the University of Montana had a higher number of drug and alcohol violations on its campus last year than Montana State University, while MSU saw more sex offenses and aggravated assaults. UM had roughly 400 more alcohol violations and 175 more drug violations on campus in 2005 than MSU, according to U. S. Department of Education statistics. “Is alcohol an issue? Yeah, I think it’s a big issue,” said Ken Willett, UM’s police chief. “This is a new world for incoming freshmen. It’s their first time away from home. It’s their first shot at what I call individual independence.” Although the number of people arrested for drug or liquor violations on the two campuses was close, the number of UM students who were disciplined not necessarily arrested for drugs or alcohol was much higher, 627 at UM compared with 202 at MSU just for alcohol. “It’s surprising to me that UM has a lot bigger numbers,” MSU Police Chief Robert Putzke said. The reason is that “anyone who is involved in a student-conduct violation with alcohol or drugs is an automatic referral to our self-over-substance program,” said Ron Brunell, UM’s residence life director. “We have told our students we have zero tolerance.” UM also had nearly three times more burglaries reported on campus than MSU, with 16 break-ins last year, compared with MSU’s six, according to annual crime reports. “Oftentimes, crimes such as that are crimes of opportunities” that occur when students leave their dorm rooms open or unlocked, Willett said. At MSU, meanwhile, 13 sexual offenses were reported on campus in the past two years, compared with just five at UM, the reports said. MSU also had 22 arsons on campus last year, while UM had none. “From time to time, we get a rash of kids taking a lighter to posters,” Putzke said. “Technically, even though it’s criminal mischief, since they used fire to destroy property, it’s arson.” Overall, the number of crimes reported on both campuses is low compared with universities of similar size elsewhere in the West, such as South Dakota State, Wyoming and Northern Arizona, the police chiefs said. “Both schools are very, very safe,” Putzke said, adding that they’re also safer than similar schools in Southern and Eastern states.