By Grace Hitzeman
This year, the College Township Fire Department has already taken five students to the hospital, a benchmark that in past years was not reached until October Break. Concerned by this trend, representatives from the Knox County Sheriffs Department, Housing and Residential Life, Campus Safety, the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities and the Fire Department met in Peirce Pub on Monday night to lead a panel devoted to alcohol consumption as part of the new Safety Awareness week.
The panelists which included Assistant Directors of Housing and Residential Life Andrea Kelley and Lisa Train, Campus Safety Officer Todd Bell, Director of the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilites Samantha Hughes, Sheriffs Deputies Aaron Phillips and Dennis Phillips and members of the Fire Department brought different perspectives on alcohol from both the Village and the College.
Understanding the Sheriffs Departments citation process was one key topic of conversation during the panel. The Sheriff mainly cites students for open containers and underage drinking, according to Dennis Phillips. Most of the time, however, he cites students only after they call attention to themselves. As long as [students] were walking in an orderly fashion, not screaming or yelling at the top of their voices, not busting up the benches on Middle Path, theyre probably never going to talk to me, Dennis Phillips said.
In the case of a citation, Dennis Phillips strongly encourages honesty. If they throw out a fake date of birth [or] a fake name, its an automatic trip to jail, he said. If theyre up front and honest with us, well cut them as many breaks as we can.
After receiving a citation, the cited students appear in court. Typically, a judge will choose a diversion program as punishment, Hughes said. Its not part of the law. … Its really a gift he is giving to students, she said. For a second offense, the sentence is guaranteed jail time of approximately five to eight days, according to Dennis Phillips.
Panelists also discussed the Sheriffs positions on the Good Samaritan policy. As it stands, many students take issue with the fact that the Sheriff can follow the ambulance to the hospital and write a citation, even when the Good Samaritan policy was involved. When [an intoxicated student] takes that squad out of service, theres approximately 4,000 people in the College Township that are now without a squad, Dennis Phillips said. If an elderly person has a stroke, that squad is tied up for 45 minutes to an hour and a half. Phillips said he would honor the Good Samaritan policy for underage and intoxicated students who called the squad for their friends.
Students have three main concerns when the squad is called, according to Will Lindberg 13, a member of the College Township Fire Department. They often want to know will my parents find out, am I going to get in trouble with the law and is this going to cost me, he said. A ride in the ambulance is free, but the hospital charges for entry and supplies used in the ambulance. Squad runs typically costs anywhere between $700 and $1,100, and they are not covered by Kenyons insurance policy.
Often, parents will learn that their child used the ambulance through their insurance bill.
The panelists all emphasized their roles in assuring the safety and education of students. If [overly intoxicated students] could just see themselves, especially when their friends are there to help, I think thats a big learning experience, seeing their friends completely out of it, lots of vomit, lots of clothes missing, Lindberg said. Its really not a position that once youve seen someone like that you ever want to risk even being in. I wish more students would understand that.
Other events during Safety Awareness Week included a campus-wide scavenger hunt among the emergency blue lights and a Campus Safety open house. Today, students will be able to learn more about fire safety during a fire extinguisher demonstration by the College Township Fire Department on the first-year quad at 4:30 p.m.