Alcohol transports increase from 2001-02 to 2002-03

The number of students who were transported by Campus Police to area hospitals for drunkenness last year was nearly doubled that of the year prior.

These alcohol transports totaled 71 last year, while only 40 incidents were reported in 2001-02, according to Lynette Harris, College disciplinary officer and assistant dean of Student Life.

“It is a significant jump,” she said.

Harris said it is unclear whether the increase in reported incidents is due to more cases, or if its staff is doing a better job of finding those students abusing alcohol.

Harris described how many alcohol transports often begin – a student is discovered drinking alcohol by staff, Campus Police and Lions EMS respond to the call and evaluate whether the student needs to go the hospital.

Caroline Vizthum, chief/president of Lions EMS and a Community Adviser (CA) in Wolfe Hall, responded to many of the incidences last year.

“I’d say 80 percent of the calls we get are from Towers,” Vizthum said, adding that most of the alcohol transports happen Tuesday and Friday nights.

Vizthum also said that this year Lions EMS has had to respond to fewer calls than this time last year.

Three transports were made so far this semester, according to Harris.

“This year’s students seem to be different than last year’s,” Vizthum said. She said that the first week of this semester went without incident, while past years had almost 20 alcohol transports in the first weeks.

Vizthum added that the number of transports seem to increase around holidays, during the start and end of a semester and when students pledge fraternities and sororities.

While Harris would not say whether 2001-02 was a record year for alcohol transports, she and Vizthum agree it had a high number of incidences compared to other years.

“It was very trying,” Vizthum said. “There were far more incidences, with far more drinking right away.”

“Serious incidents were up in the past year, and it’s not just been because of alcohol,” Harris said, listing use of club drugs and marijuana.

For 2001-02, the annual report of crime statistics on campus lists 274 liquor law violations, with 253 of those occurring in residential halls.

The 2002-03 report becomes available later this month.

These figures are not indicative of how many alcohol transports occurred because not every case of alcohol consumption leads to a trip to the hospital,” Harris said.

“We deal with things case by case,” she added.

Harris and Vizthum said for each response call, Lions EMS will evaluate the student’s vital signs and consciousness levels.

Vizthum said that Lions EMS and Campus Police are well trained to determine whether someone needs to go to the hospital.

“We are checking to see if they are incapacitated – are pupils dilated, are they sluggish, what is their response time?” Vizthum said. “Dealing with drunk students is something we do a lot of.”

According to Harris, whenever an alcohol-use incident occurs and the decision needs to be made to transport the student, the professional staff will “err on the side of caution,” Harris said.

Harris said all kinds of people, not just athletes and Greeks, comprise alcohol transports.

“I think athletes and Greeks get a bad rap,” Harris said.

“In reality, these students are from all years, all backgrounds, interests – Dean’s list, honor roll, leadership positions,” she added.

Many of the transports are freshmen, Vizthum said.

“Maybe it’s because they are away from parents-it could be for a lot of reasons,” she said.

A bulk of the alcohol transports Harris deals with involve people coming back home from a party location.

“They get back to their housing, and may pass out or show other signs of needing an alcohol transport, such as vomiting,” Harris said.

Harris added that The Rat is not a prime location for an alcohol transport to start.

“If anything, you’ll have an assault happen. The staff is very good at watching drinking levels,” Harris said.

For students who are underage and drinking, the College offers little tolerance, Harris added.

Harris said that she urges all students to read the policies in the student handbook, because “ignorance is no excuse.”

According to the handbook, the College “permits the moderate and responsible consumption of alcoholic beverages on campus.”

Harris said the consequences for alcohol abuse include meeting with College counselors and disciplinary officers, loss of housing and in extreme cases, expulsion.