Hospitalizations double this year

The number of students hospitalized for alcohol-related incidents has almost doubled from last year to this spring, according to a report released this month. Despite the increase in hospitalizations, there has been a slight decrease in the total number of liquor law violations.

Seventy-four students were hospitalized as of April 18, compared with 38 students at this time last year, according to Student Judicial Services records.

Officials attributed the rise in hospitalizations to students’ increased willingness to call University Police in cases of excessive alcohol consumption.

“The numbers show that students are continuing to call (UPD) for their friends if they are in need of medical attention,” said Rebecca Sawyer, director of SJS.

Brian Hamluk, director of the Center for Alcohol and other Drug Education, attributed the rise to an increasing student population and more upperclassmen living on campus.

“UPD is catching more students because there are more students on campus,” he said.

Some students said hospitalizations are up because of UPD’s presence on campus.

“Everywhere I go I see them,” said junior Natalie Warchuk. “They’re always patrolling the hallways, and whenever there’s a drunk kid, they take care of him right away.”

Sophomore Kevin Morshed attributed the increase to bigger Greek-letter life on campus and a larger student population.

“I think kids are more prone to drinking to excess at frats because they won’t get caught there,” he said.

Sawyer said while the number of hospitalizations has increased, there has been a decrease in low-level student alcohol violations. Low-level violations include underage possession and consumption of alcohol and public drunkenness. When a student is hospitalized for alcohol, it is classified as a high-level violation by SJS.

“We have had a tremendous success rate with low-level violations,” said Hamluk, noting the repeat-offender rate for low-level violations is low.

The repeat-offender rate is currently 4 percent, according to SJS records.

Although liquor law violations are down, the percentage of violations attributed to sophomores, juniors and seniors are up, while the percentage of freshman violations have seen a small decrease.

Last year, freshman violations accounted for 56 percent of the 466 violations, with this year’s freshmen class accounting for 43 percent of the 455 violations.

Hamluk discussed the importance of continuing alcohol education for returning students in addition to the seminars CADE sponsors for incoming students at Colonial Inauguration.

“We want to do a campaign for returning students in August,” Hamluk said. “In the case of next year’s juniors and seniors, we will focus on alcohol’s impact on academic performance. We also hope to focus on drug education.”

“We hope to continue to talk to students (about) how to drink responsibly and not to consume (alcohol),” Sawyer said. “People are getting arrested, and that doesn’t seem to be a deterrent.”

Alcohol intoxication-related student arrests have risen slightly, with 60 as of April 15 compared to 56 at the same time in 2002, according to SJS records.

Hamluk said this year’s policy of notifying parents by phone or letter of all student alcohol violations acts as a deterrent for many students contemplating drinking.

“Parents should be aware of these things,” Hamluk said. “The parents whom I have called have been very appreciative of the calls.”

SJS records also show an increase in the use of hard liquor in residence halls and off-campus drinking establishments.

“We live in an urban environment,” said Sawyer, noting that many students frequent clubs and bars. “Students have very easy accessibility to off-campus drinking.”

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