By Rosalyn Aquila
Last year, there were 14 hospital transports related to drug and alcohol use, according to Director of Campus Safety Bob Hooper. This year, there have already been 10, a figure that is raising red flags amongst College administrators.
Dean of Students Hank Toutain first addressed this concern in early September. Following six alcohol-related incidents between Sept. 7 and Sept. 9, Toutain sent an email to the Kenyon community. Were very concerned about multiple incidents of excessive alcohol use this past weekend, he wrote. Well be talking about alcohol in the weeks ahead. Please know that well be doing so because we care about you and this community.
Following his email, Toutain organized staff from a number of departments Campus Safety, Housing and Residential Life, Student Activities, the Health and Counseling Center, the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities and the Deans Office to form a committee to discuss the rising concerns related to alcohol use on campus.
Since then, members of that committee have overwhelmingly agreed increased hard liquor consumption is the root of the problem, according to Director of the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities Sam Hughes, who is a member of the committee.
Drinking liquor in the same manner you drink beer or wine is never okay, she said. It always leads to disaster.
According to Hughes, in all alcohol-related transports this year the student was drinking hard alcohol. Its not just beer, and its not just wine. Its the over-consumption of hard liquor for a variety of reasons, Hughes said. Theyve never consumed liquor before. They did so on an empty stomach. They were drinking punch, and so they had no idea what was in it. All that sort of stuff.
This increase in liquor consumption marks a growing drinking trend, Hughes said. Ive heard more about punch this year than I have before, she said.
Occasionally, you would hear students say they were going to make some, but it seems much more common, said Hughes.
The senior class had Soire this past Saturday, and some of the students who were on the committee said, Oh yeah, our friends are making punch. I cant believe after all the stuff thats here, that they are still going to have [punch]. I was just surprised.
While liquor consumption will be a key topic in any upcoming conversations, the committee does not want to discourage students from using the Good Samaritan policy, which states: In those instances in which a student calls the Office of Campus Safety or another College office for assistance with an intoxicated or impaired student, neither the individual calling nor the student in need of assistance will be charged with violations of the Colleges policies on alcohol and other drugs.
Nonetheless, Toutain said any increase in calls is concerning. The increase in Good Samaritan calls is one of those good news/bad news deals, Toutain said in an email. That students are seeking help for individuals who are at risk because of alcohol or drugs is obviously a positive outcome; the policy is intended to keep people safe, and an increase in calls indicates that its working. On the other hand, an increase in Good Samaritan calls may also signal an increase in high-risk behaviors.
Overall, the number of Good Samaritan calls has increased over the past four years, according to statistics provided in the Student Handbook. There were 27 calls in the 2008-2009 academic year, 51 in the 2009-2010 academic year, 54 in the 2010-2011 academic year and 69 calls last year. As of Nov. 15, there have been 28 Good Samaritan calls this year. Hughes attributes better student awareness of the policy, not a rise in alcohol abuse itself, as the reason behind the increase. Substance Abuse Educator and Counselor Mike Durham agreed the
Good Samaritan policy may not reflect an increase in alcohol consumption. I am reluctant to use the number of Good Samaritans as a measure of alcohol habits because it may be reflective of students being more proactive, he said in an email. What I hope is that students that consume alcohol would support each other in a lower risk style of drinking where we wouldnt need to use the Good Samaritan Policy.
Having met every other week since mid-September, the committee next plans to invite students to join the conversation. It is the 10 shots of vanilla vodka … thats a problem, Hughes said. So, how [do we] address that? Thats what we need student help with. We can make any policy we want. But at the end of the day, the students have to buy into that and understand, Wait a second, what were doing isnt safe.
Comments for this article have closed. If you'd like to send a letter to the editor for publication, please email us at email@example.com.