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Drop in Alcohol-Related Student Hospital Runs Last Semester

Education and enforcement credited

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The decline in the number of hospital transports of seriously drunken students last semester can be credited to BU’s one-two punch of responsible drinking education and enhanced enforcement of alcohol laws, University officials say.

During the fall 2015 semester 75 students required trips to the hospital for severe inebriation, down from 114 in fall 2014, for a four-year low, according to Student Health Services (see charts).

“The combination of enforcement and education is paying dividends,” says Scott Paré, deputy director of public safety and deputy chief of the Boston University Police Department. In the education arena, he cites the mandatory online course for first-year students, launched in 2013, which counters the myth that excess drinking is the campus norm.

Paré also says that bystander training, where students learn to intervene safely with an obviously drunk peer, has been crucial, because “when the students are policing themselves,” drunkenness problems decline.

“We are finding the students before they are able to consume the alcohol, citing them as minors in possession of alcohol,” he says. BUPD Chief Thomas Robbins adds that “enforcement is one part of a set of strategies to reduce or eliminate binge drinking and alcohol transports. By focusing our enforcement efforts in a consistent manner over the past couple of years, it is my hope that these strategies are effective and that students are better informed and making good decisions.”

Sum of Arrests Hearings and Civil Citations BU Fall 2015

Katharine Mooney (SPH’12), SHS director of wellness and prevention services, agrees that the University’s four-year-old alcohol enforcement protocols, which boost patrols of party neighborhoods and break up loud parties, contributed to the drop in hospital runs. She also credits University-provided online information for parents on how to discuss drinking with their children and SHS student kits for student leaders to use in encouraging responsible partying.

“We know that there’s still work to do to help students stay safe,” she says. Continued collaboration among faculty, staff, and students will be essential “to maintain this apparent trend toward less dangerous drinking.”

Enhanced spring semester enforcement, begun two years ago, will resume March 17. The BUPD says that spring enforcement allows officers to intercept more underage students with alcohol.

Meanwhile, the University may start a marketing campaign next fall to further puncture student misperceptions that excessive drinking is the norm among their peers. The campaign, which would include posters, ads, flyers, and social media posts, would publicize the fact that two out of three BU freshmen track how much they drink when they imbibe, to limit themselves. The campaign was designed by Elise DeYoung (SPH’16), Kim Hassell (SPH’18), and Clare Schmidt (SPH’17).

2 Comments
Rich Barlow

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

2 Comments on Drop in Alcohol-Related Student Hospital Runs Last Semester

  • Nathan on 01.20.2016 at 12:21 pm

    Interesting convergence of data from Fall 2014 to Fall 2015

    0-5 arrests
    114-75 alcohol transports

  • Skeptics on 01.20.2016 at 6:49 pm

    This is cool, but let’s not forget that this is one semester. It’s not out of the realm of reason that this is just a random fluctuation. Let’s not all start patting each other on the backs just yet.

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