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Alcohol Violations, Hospital Runs Plummet

Fall enforcement seems to be paying dividends

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Alcohol violations by students plunged 79 percent this fall from last fall, and alcohol-related hospital runs dropped 35 percent as well, according to the Boston University Police Department.

Violations numbered 38 last fall as opposed to just 8 this year, while comparable figures for hospital runs were 120 and 78. Amid lingering student objections that BU’s two-year-old alcohol enforcement plan is a waste of resources, BUPD and campus medical officials are hopeful that the enforcement regimen is showing results.

“We would like to believe there’s an association between the two—the efforts and the decreases,” says David McBride, director of Student Health Services. But stating a more definitive link, he says, would require several years of data and an analysis of whether other universities are having similar decreases in alcohol problems.

BUPD Captain Robert Molloy says that besides police enforcement, information distributed to students about alcohol laws, penalties for violation, and the dangers of alcohol abuse may be fueling the declining numbers.

One objection to the enforcement plan has been the fear that it would merely drive dangerous drinking farther away to less patrolled neighborhoods, says McBride. But there have been no reports of heightened partying and violations elsewhere, he adds. “It’s not displacing the activity to other places, unless kids are going to Cambridge or JP or Somerville.”

Last fall, after the enforcement effort’s first semester, rowdy partying declined in nearby neighborhoods, but there was little or no effect on decreasing hospital transports. Indeed, President Robert A. Brown made a point of informing students and parents in a summer email that 200-plus students, mostly freshmen, went to the hospital for acute intoxication during the 2011–2012 academic year.

This year’s improved results make McBride “cautiously optimistic” that BU has found an effective strategy to combat alcohol abuse.

“We anticipate the enforcement plan will continue in the upcoming spring and fall semesters,” says Molloy. The plan, modeled on successful efforts at the University of California, involves increased patrols of party neighborhoods by University, Boston, and Brookline police departments, dispersing loud parties, and citing or arresting violators of alcohol laws. The enforcement statistics have been published for each of the last two fall semesters by BU Today.

The “sharing of information and coordinating strategies” among the three police departments has been crucial to the enforcement’s success, says Molloy. Since the plan’s inception, the local departments reported appreciation from residents of nearby neighborhoods that their lives and sleep were less troubled by raucous student parties.

Some BU parents have endorsed the police efforts as well. They may have been moved in part by Brown’s email last summer that noted not just the impairment of judgment of drunkenness, but its role in making drinkers more susceptible to sexual assault. This fall, BU opened a Sexual Assault Response & Prevention Center (SARP) at the urging of students and others concerned about the need for such a resource.

Besides alcohol, arrests or citations for illicit drug use (mostly marijuana) declined this fall as well, by 54 percent, Molloy says.

Graphic by Dakota Chichester

29 Comments
Rich Barlow

Rich Barlow can be reached at barlowr@bu.edu.

29 Comments on Alcohol Violations, Hospital Runs Plummet

  • Anonymous on 12.04.2012 at 12:34 am

    Or perhaps the spike in armed robberies made people afraid to go out at night.

  • Current BU student on 12.04.2012 at 7:11 am

    Or maybe the freshmen are just learning how to hold their liquor

  • A Greek Philosopher on 12.04.2012 at 7:19 am

    Coorelation does not prove causation my friends

  • BU STUDENT '15 on 12.04.2012 at 9:25 am

    If a front desk security guard even suspects that a student is drunk trying to swipe in they call for an ambulance, even if you don’t need one. So in reality the number of LEGIT hospital trips is probably significantly smaller.

    • Nik on 12.04.2012 at 10:07 am

      You’re not doing it right. Do some small talk with those guards throughout the year, maybe get em canes once or twice, and they’ll be on your side every time.

      • Dan on 12.06.2012 at 11:17 am

        This guy’s got it. You gotta make the system work for you.

    • doof on 12.04.2012 at 10:14 am

      LEGIT dude LEGIT

  • Confused on 12.04.2012 at 9:58 am

    Why is it that I know, for a fact, there have been more than 8 alcohol violations this semester? Something smells fishy. Don’t lie to us to justify your highly unpopular tactics.

  • Maths type on 12.04.2012 at 10:44 am

    I would like to see the statistics for years previous to 2011. It is great that the numbers plummeted but is it statistically significant?

    • anon on 12.05.2012 at 12:35 am

      what’s the p-value?

  • mike on 12.04.2012 at 10:57 am

    As a resident of Ashford street, I can assure you that the partying and drinking has not decreased any more than it does every year after the initial rush of freshmen in September. One can only hope that BUPD and Boston police have come to their senses and realized that assaults and muggings are what they should be concentrating their efforts on. However, I know this is not the case. On several occasions, friends of mine have had undercover BUPD (to think BUPD has undercover officers. haha) come to their house about fictitious parties that never happened, or nonexistent parties that the officers believed were going to happen. Personally I find this absurd, as I cannot imagine BUPD putting nearly this much effort into crimes that aren’t so easy to solve, like sexual assault at the hands of the Allston ass looker, or arson at the hands of the still unapprehended Allston flamer of last year. The fact that the perpetrators of these crimes remain free and have tongue in cheek nicknames is a testament to the efficacy of these police departments. Moving forward, BUPD needs to realize that college kids will drink no matter what, and that these kids are not the cause of these crimes, but the victims of a faulty police strategy.

    • Manuel on 12.04.2012 at 1:14 pm

      I concur with everything you said

  • BU Sophomore on 12.04.2012 at 1:29 pm

    It bothers me that BU administration feels the need to parent students to the extent that they do. Obviously I expect a certain degree of safety measures, and while I agree that security should call an ambulance for a student that is inebriated to the point that they can’t swipe in (because you have to be really drunk to not be able to), I think they do take it too far. I’ve had friends who were nowhere near drunk enough to earn a trip to the hospital be shipped away in an ambulance simply on the grounds of suspicion. Frankly, it’s a waste of time and resources for the hospitals who provide the ambulances and health services to students. Most of us are quite capable of taking care of ourselves. While there may be a bad night every once in a while, those bad nights don’t warrant alcohol counseling or transports to the hospital simply because we stumbled while swiping in.

  • Max on 12.04.2012 at 1:58 pm

    I also live on Ashford street and on any weekend night can see from my window that the number of parties in Allston has not decreased. Perhaps this inconclusive study is an indication of the increased leniency of police officers since the beginning of the school year due to an inevitable recognition of the futile nature of their stopping college drinking parties.
    Undercover BUPD officers have come to my house and attempted to interrogate the people I live with about fictitious allegations of us throwing underage parties. This left me and my housemates in a fear of being labeled as living in a party houes by having any friends over for non-illicit reasons for an indefinite amount of time.
    Earlier this year my friend was walking back to BU west campus from Allston at around 1 am when he was jumped on Ashford Street without any apparent provocation by 4 kids. This happened at the same time police were busting a party a block away, bringing trouble to college students partaking in an activity that they would find a means of doing regardless of police presence, and allowing my friend to be nearly beaten to unconsciousness by 4 kids who said they were from Dorchester, clearly walking around Allston for the sole purpose of finding a fight.
    BU Today should be embarrassed for publishing such a blatantly misleading article, needing to give the brief disclaimer in the body of the article that “a more definitive link … would require several years of data and an analysis”
    Boston University must accept the fact that students’ partying will not stop or be significantly diminished by the university’s attempts to get students in trouble. The University should redirect its attention to giving readily accesible medical attention to the few students who will inevitably push their limits and get too drunk without giving them and their friends the fear of receiving punitive actions. Other schools (even schools in the immediate vicinity such as Harvard) have successfully eliminated the embarrassing amount of punitive measures taken against students for drinking, going as far as implicitly legitimizing safe on campus drinking by allowing students to throw parties in the safety of their own dorms. I would not expect Boston University to take measures as drastic as these, due to the school’s recent history of catering to the greatest number of people’s complaints possible with an absurd amount of political correctness (task team for investigating BU hockey team, abused hazing hotline, etc..), but I can only hope that my university would take some measures in the right direction of accepting inevitable aspects of college life and helping the safety of their students instead of enforcing unenforceable laws, bringing trouble to its students , and bringing a bad name to the university.

    • student on 12.06.2012 at 11:23 am

      I hope your friend reported his assault and that he is doing okay now.

  • anonymous sophomore on 12.04.2012 at 3:21 pm

    “information distributed to students about alcohol laws, penalties for violation, and the dangers of alcohol abuse may be fueling the declining numbers”
    Is this part supposed to be a joke? Last year people on my floor taped an alcohol warning notice to an empty handle and put it in front of the elevators. No one will reconsider what they do on weekends because some stupid notice, the possibility of a fine or probation, or (best yet) the “dangers” of alcohol abuse.
    The number of parties have hardly decreased. The extensive amount of money and effort put into these policies could easily be relocated elsewhere…preferably a smaller budget, so I don’t have to pay $50,000/year to find out where the party houses are.

  • Anonymous Senior on 12.04.2012 at 4:11 pm

    Congratulations on reducing alcohol violations.

    Congratulations again on increase in the amount of armed robberies, sexual assaults, and overall danger during WEEKDAYS.

  • mike on 12.04.2012 at 4:20 pm

    I as well am another resident of Ashford street. I feel as if the BUPD has put so much effort into stopping college students from drinking that they have lost sight of the larger picture. BU might as well post an article about how long it took to catch the infamous “Brookline Bandits” and why it was such a hassle. This year I have heard more stories of young women being sexually harassed and violated in Allston than anything else. This is a much larger issue than arresting students for willingly being intoxicated. Also I have seen many groups of guys walking around Ashford, Gardner, and Pratt Streets just looking for fights and harassing every girl that comes into their path. Not only are these actions going on but there have been many cases of people trying to break into houses (including my own multiple times) which is unacceptable. I’m sure parents and students that pay large sums of money to come to this school would rather know that these major issues are being solved rather than minor drinking violations. Most parents of students our age were able to legally drink during their college years. I’m quite sure they would be happier to know their tuition is going towards stopping crimes like sexual assault and armed robberies rather than for an abused anonymous tip line and undercover investigations of underaged drinking.

  • Leoz on 12.04.2012 at 4:48 pm

    If you are fed up with the absurd tactics used by the university to combat drinking like this page to make a difference. http://www.facebook.com/BUSFSAP

  • anon sophomore on 12.04.2012 at 4:50 pm

    Alcohol violations down, crime rates up. Alright BU

  • LetsbeReal on 12.04.2012 at 5:17 pm

    hows about we see less FRAT PARTIES duh, that’s where the crime comes from. girls leave the party drunk, people get robbed and stuff is taken there all the time. i had my jacket stolen at a party freshman year, my friend lost his iphone and his wallet. also thats where all the freshmen go to get drunk, why doesnt BU stop that? thatd stopp all violations altogether if they just have police at these events to make sure stuff doesnt happen

  • allston resident on 12.04.2012 at 7:04 pm

    None of this really makes sense to me. If their new policy “involves increased patrols of party neighborhoods by University, Boston, and Brookline police departments, dispersing loud parties, and citing or arresting violators of alcohol laws”, then shouldn’t the number of alcohol violations be increasing? Since essentially the new policy is just a crackdown, it seems logical that more students would be caught drinking, and therefore more students would receive violations. The only way a drop in the number of alcohol violations could be attributed to the new policy is if students are so afraid of the likelihood of receiving violations that they stay sober, which, based on my experience, could not be further from the truth.

    Also, I believe a highly relevant statistic would be the percentage of violations, both last fall and this fall, that were issued within dorms and did not involve the police, since these, surely, should be considered as separate from the new policy, and therefore irrelevant to the chief point of this article.

    Lastly, as has been said multiple times above, it is absolutely ludicrous that a victimless crime such as an underage student willingly intoxicating him or herself should be treated with such attention, when the regular assaults that occur on Ashford street (about one per weekend in my experience), as well as the even more dangerous arsonist and ass-looker are relatively overlooked.

    Please join the facebook group, Boston University Students for a Sensible Alcohol Policy to help affect change on our campus.

  • Anon on 12.05.2012 at 12:38 am

    Can we run this through SASS? I’m pretty concerned with credibility of the correlation … Do we have a p value for this?

  • Currently a junior on 12.05.2012 at 1:05 am

    Class of 2016 must be pussies

    • SigChi on 12.05.2012 at 11:09 am

      they should join sigma chi. we are hosting some dry parties

      • Broski on 12.05.2012 at 11:24 pm

        totally chief, I can’t wait for the ∑X dry party! brohonestly, those are the best this side of the charles. when’s the next dry party brother?

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