By Steven Viera, News Editor
Between the first week of August and the second week of September of this year, 14 F&M students were transported to local hospitals for issues related to alcohol consumption. While this number is greater than the figure from this time last year, there are a number of factors that may contribute to that change according to the College’s administration.
Last year, during the same time frame, only eight students were transported to local hospitals for alcohol consumption issues compared to this year’s 14. (The College did not have infomation on the number of drug-related hospital transports). Directly comparing the statistics from both years, however, may not accurately recognize the components that affect drinking patterns on campus. Particularly alarming are incidents in which students are found unconscious and by themselves.
“Did we have a warm August when people were outside more, or a cooler August where we stayed indoors more?” said Julia Ferrante, spokesperson for the College. “Was there an event or anything else unusual going on? Typically, any campus looks at statistics over a longer period of time to help us assess what actions we might take in light of any consistent fluctuations.”
Ferrante also acknowledged that it is at times difficult to evaluate which specific factors affect the changes in the number of medical assistance calls related to drinking.
College emergency personnel—such as members of the Department of Public Safety (DPS) or F&M Emergency
Medical Services (EMS) — respond to calls for medical assistance and determine on-site whether or not a student needs to be taken to a hospital for treatment. All of the drinking-related medical assistance calls result in hospital transports, in which students are able to be quickly treated for their issues, compared to hospitalizations, in which a student would be admitted to the hospital for more long-term treatment.
The College is initiating several programs to try and reduce the number of alcohol-related hospital transports. For example, F&M’s Student Health and Wellness Education Program, run through Appel Health Services, offers support, advice, and programming throughout the year to encourage students to make responsible decisions; the program begins at Orientation and continues throughout the year.
In addition, the College hopes that students will feel more inclined to call for help for themselves or others by taking advantage of the amnesty policy in which they can make call for medical assistance without worrying about facing disciplinary action for their drinking. Instead, students treated through the amnesty system are referred to professional and peer counseling services.
Other measures include the student-run Emergency Medical Technician program, monthly safety tips issued by DPS, and periodic emails from College officials promoting safe behavior.
“Above all, the College’s top priority is the health, welfare, and safety of our students,” Ferrante said. “We are making every effort so that students understand that we want our students to be responsible, to be safe, and to look out for one another.”
While the College takes a number of steps to help keep students safe, ultimately, the
decision will fall to the students.
“We make every effort to raise awareness and educate our students about alcohol, but it is absolutely essential that our students be active participants in safeguarding the health and well-being of our student
community,” Ferrante said.
Sophomore Steven Viera is the News Editor. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.