Alcohol violations still decreasing

The number of alcohol-related sanctions has continued to drop significantly in the first two months of school compared to last year, according to University officials they said the culture of alcohol consumption on campus has not changed despite the decrease in sanctions.

The number of students Student Judicial Services charged with alcohol violations decreased from 79 in October 2005 to 24 last month, SJS Director Tara Woolfson said. The Hatchet reported last month that as of Sept. 26, the number of students cited for alcohol had nearly doubled in comparison to that time the year before.

“I do not think there is less alcohol on this campus because there are less documentations,” said Woolfson, who previously said SJS is giving out more warning letters this year.

In October 2005, 92 students were documented by the University Police Department with alcohol violations, according to UPD Chief Dolores Stafford. Last month, UPD documented that 43 students were involved in alcohol violations, according to Stafford, almost half as many as the previous year. Students that UPD cites for alcohol are referred to SJS. Not everyone documented by UPD receives an SJS violation.

This academic year marks the first time UPD has held sole responsibility for documenting student violations. In past years, student residence hall staffers, community facilitators, also had authority to document students for violations.

Woolfson said GW will begin to assess these numbers after winter break to determine whether a change in the system is necessary. Woolfson said it is too early to speculate on what these potential changes might mean.

Center for Alcohol and Drug Education Director Brian Hamluk and Director of Residential Life and Education James Kohl also said it is too early to tell what the drop in numbers indicates.

“One way that the alcohol culture has changed is in terms of student and peer responsibility in looking out for their friends and calling for their friends,” said Hamluk of the University’s new medical amnesty policy.

The University introduced a policy this fall where if a student under the age of 21 is taken to the hospital for alcohol consumption, they may not be given an alcohol violation if it is their first offense.

According to Woolfson, there have been 99 student hospitalizations so far this academic year related to alcohol. Of those sent to the hospital, 82 received medical amnesties, she said.

During the entire last academic year, a total of 163 students were hospitalized because of alcohol-related incidents, according to SJS records. None of these students received medical amnesty since the policy had not yet been enacted.

Hamluk said he sees no disadvantages to the new policy.

“The vast majority of these students who receive medical amnesty have a bad night,” he said.

Hamluk said the new policy helps students feel more comfortable with student residence hall staffers.

“It was very difficult to utilize staff in the educational process about alcohol and drugs because it was the same person who was doing the documenting and who could get them, ‘in trouble,'” Hamluk said.

With the new system, house staff and students are equally as responsible to call UPD and look out for their friends, said Kohl.

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