Walking home late one Saturday night, I noticed a large gathering of what appeared to be my fellow classmates, mostly drunk, crowding around an ambulance and the EMeRG suburban. I spotted a friend.
“Yo, this girl passed out on the curb, so we called EMeRG,” he informed me.
Piecing together the rest of the information I could gather at the scene, I realized that it was a normal weekend night. Freshman girl drinks too much, passes out on a curb, friends call EMeRG and try to wake her up. Eventually she does get up, only to vomit all over the sidewalk and then spend the rest of her night at GW hospital. Wow, that sounds like a great time.
I can’t say that I don’t remember a few nights when I had a little too much to drink, or when my friends took that extra, extremely unnecessary tequila shot. But an alcohol-related transport is just something that I have never personally experienced.
According to GW’s Center for Alcohol and Drug Education, this year there were 25 alcohol-related transports to the hospital from move-in through the first weekend after classes started. Last year, there were 22 transports for the same period.
Even with the amount of binge-drinking that does occur on and off campus, we are lucky that GW students rarely take drinking to the extreme that is seen at other college campuses around the country. Every year brings stories of fraternity hazing or random nights of drinking that result in alcohol-related deaths at other campuses. I think we can thank residence hall staffers, alert friends and EMeRG for that.
Still, it’s disturbing that while our University attempts to beef up its academic image, the students are desperately trying, in a rather uncoordinated manner, to improve our party ranking. Look, Mom – we made Playboy’s list of top party schools. Aren’t you proud of me?
The University, for its part, is fairly realistic and pragmatic when it comes to alcohol-use policy. Recently, policy changes have made life for alcohol drinkers a little bit easier. Of-age students can enjoy alcohol in residence halls. EMeRG instituted a medical amnesty policy that should encourage students to seek medical attention for friends in need. Residence hall staff no longer roam the halls looking for students drinking or partying. First-time violators of GW’s alcohol policies must only pay a fine and attend an education class about alcohol use.
For all that though, 25 people still deemed it necessary to drink beyond their limits during the first week of school and take a trip to GW Hospital. Especially with the implementation of EMeRG’s medical amnesty policy, the University is treating drinking on campus realistically. No one is pretending it doesn’t happen, and no one is trying to ensure that students can’t even drink. After fighting so hard over the past few years for changes to various aspects of GW’s alcohol-use policies, students should show that they can reasonably and responsibly drink without needing a hospital escort once a week.
The liability for the University is too great. An alcohol-related death or serious injury would prompt administrators to rethink some of their recent pragmatism, perhaps opting for a more draconian approach to alcohol policy.
Drinking, admittedly, is fun. Hospital stays are not. Most members of the GW community are too smart to become just another statistic in the college binge-drinking trend, or to be the reason why administrators revoke these recently won privileges.
-The writer, a senior majoring in international affairs, is a Hatchet senior editor.