Four freshmen treated for alcohol poisoning

Four freshmen were charged with separate alcohol violations that led to hospitalizations during the first week of the school year, according to officials in the Community Living and Learning Center.

The four students were evaluated and released shortly after their hospital visits, said Mike Walker, senior assistant dean of CLLC. Walker said that the number of initial hospitalizations during the first week of school has remained consistent in the past few years.

Freshmen can become caught up in the inertia of all the excitement, Walker said. Before they know it, they’ve consumed more alcohol than they ever have at home.

University Police Department officers have had a very busy couple of days rounding up various violators, which is usual at the beginning of a school year, said Dolores Stafford, director of the UPD.

There’s been activity all over the place, Stafford said. People are acclimating themselves to college life.

CLLC and the Student Activities Center have been collaborating to provide non-alcoholic events for students to attend as alternatives to parties and bars where alcohol is served. Walker cited the number of bars located near freshman housing as a challenge to curbing freshman alcohol consumption.

This year, from the president on down, we are focusing on student alcohol use, Walker said. The response transcends all students and faculty.

Alcohol violations are rated in three categories – minor, serious or severe – and the penalties work on a three-strike system.

Hospitalization for alcohol problems is considered a severe violation and carries a $100 fine. Walker said there are few repeat offenders.

Although attention is often centered on irresponsible drinking by some freshmen, CLLC officials are quick to point out that there are many students who drink responsibly or abstain from drinking altogether.

Walker said 20 percent of students on campus refrain from drinking while many others have no difficulties with alcohol.

Some students said the freshman hospitalizations are understandable considering the transition to college.

At home (students) so tied down, said freshman Erica Fleming, a Thurston Hall resident who witnessed a student being charged for an alcohol violation. They get here and have so much freedom they can’t handle it.

In addition to planning alternative activities, CLLC officials said they will confiscate palm cards distributed by local clubs and bars. This type of advertising is considered soliciting and is illegal on GW property, Walker said.

Stickers that read Play it Safe will be distributed this weekend as part of the push for responsible drinking. Walker said he hopes to avoid a situation similar to what happened at Georgetown University last year, in which a student died during an alcohol-related confrontation.

It’s hard with 2,200 freshmen away from home for the first time, Walker said. We’re really going to push for this.

Some freshmen said mistakes of a few students can stigmatize an entire class.

(If) you don’t know enough people here, they’ll get the wrong image of you, freshman Maggie Fan said. Although, some people may want that image.

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