Alcohol transport cases rise 14 percent

Correction appended

The number of students transported to the GW Hospital for alcohol-related incidents increased nearly 14 percent last year3.

Two-hundred and seventy-one students were transported to the hospital during the 2009-2010 academic year, said Tara Pereira, the assistant dean of students and director of Student Judicial Services.

In the 2008-2009 academic year, EMeRG transported 238 students.

Pereira credits the increase to students calling for EMeRG – the group that provides emergency medical attention to students – more readily.

“It really has gone up every year,” Pereira said, adding that the increase is likely due to students being less afraid to report incidences of excessive drinking.

Already this semester, alcohol-related incidents are slightly up. Since the start of term, there have been 12 alcohol-related transports to the hospital, compared with eight this time last year.

“It’s concerning because I worry for each of those 12 students,” Pereira said.

Pereira said the jump in alcohol-related transports during the first week of school does not necessarily mean there will be an increase in alcohol transports over the academic year.

Students, at times, will not call EMeRG for themselves or their friends because of the disciplinary consequences they could face. GW does have a medical amnesty policy that covers both the caller and the student in need of assistance, but only if the student does not have any prior alcohol-related transports.

Pereira acknowledged to The Hatchet last week that the reputation of SJS also discourages students from calling for medical assistance. She announced plans to amend the University’s disciplinary process to focus more on educating students on the dangers of alcohol and drug abuse, rather than doling out disciplinary measures.

“One of the things that is currently happening is that we are looking at how the University responds to various types of violations,” Pereira said. “It is always in the student’s best interest to drink responsibly, to not participate or not engage in the highest-risk drinking.”

Alcohol policy was also a standout issue in last year’s Student Association elections.

Executive Vice President Rob Maxim said the SA worked throughout the summer to bring a student perspective to the SJS reform process.

“Throughout the school year we will continue to work with SJS, [the Center for Alcohol and Drug Education] and other stakeholders as they continue to revise and evaluate their process,” Maxim said.

Other colleges along the East Coast have also renewed efforts to curb binge drinking on their campuses.

Last month, the president of James Madison University in Virginia sent out a letter to students vowing to “change the negative alcohol culture” on JMU’s campus. Wake Forest University in North Carolina also announced it would begin notifying parents after all alcohol violations and plans to implement a three-year on-campus residency requirement to cut down on off-campus parties.

Pereira said she has read up on the new policies at James Madison and Wake Forest, and that they have added to the number of possibilities under consideration for SJS.

“There is not a final answer to the final approach,” Pereira said. “There will be, hopefully soon.”

This story was updated on Sept. 12, 2010 to reflect the following correction.
The Hatchet incorrectly characterized all alcohol-related hospital transports during the past two academic years as EMeRG cases. Not all alcohol-related hospital transports are handled by EMeRG. This characterization cause The Hatchet to incorrectly title this story as “EMeRG alcohol cases rise 14 percent.” This headline is now updated.

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