During the first three weeks of the fall semester, 43 students were hospitalized due to alcohol consumption and an additional 82 students received alcohol citations, according to data provided by Temple Police.
Executive Director of Campus Safety Services Charlie Leone said the first few weekends of the fall semester are some of the most active for alcohol citations.
Though CSS has put further emphasis on the issue this year, he said this semester’s number of hospitalizations is about the same as previous years.
“It really just worries me,” Leone said. He described an unconscious student whose friend brought him to Temple Hospital.
“They had to intubate him and it took a while to get him back,” Leone said. “It could have easily gone the other way.”
For the first two weekends of the semester, CSS attempted to set the tone by sending out special patrols and liquor control enforcement. Leone said CSS’s main concern is that high levels of intoxication will make students more vulnerable to becoming victims of crime, Leone said.
“You have to have some responsibility when you’re drinking,” he said.
A senior liberal arts student, who requested anonymity, was hospitalized after drinking alcohol during a night out with a few new friends in her freshman year. The police found the student unconscious in a vacant lot.
“I found out later the people that were with me ditched me, and no one called [requesting medical] amnesty for me,” the student said.
The student described the thought of lying alone waiting to be found by police as “scary.”
“I was really upset no one helped me out,” she said. “I don’t want to blame other people because it’s my fault I got drunk, but I felt like if I saw someone as drunk as I was, I would do them a favor and [request] amnesty.”
Dean of Students Stephanie Ives said she hopes students continue to use medical amnesty, which allows students to seek treatment for drug or alcohol use for themselves or a friend without university disciplinary measures.
“I never want a student to be in a situation where they make a decision for their friend that ‘I’m not going to call for help because I don’t want this person to get in trouble,’” Ives said.
Megan Okonsky, a senior public relations major, said someone called medical amnesty for her when a night during her freshman year went bad.
At a Greek life date night, Okonsky said she began by drinking what she described as a normal amount but when she went “shot for shot” with a friend, she began vomiting.
“Some friends were going to take me to their apartment to wait it out when another girl just called amnesty, which looking back, I’m glad she did,” Okonsky said.
Both students were freshmen at the time of their hospitalizations. They cited their grade level as a factor in each of their experiences.
“In high school, I drank, but we had limited amounts of alcohol,” Okonsky said. “At [college parties], they don’t usually cut you off.”
As a result, Okonsky said, she had no concept of what her drinking limits were or what the consequences would be when that limit was surpassed.
The liberal arts student cites a lack of connection at the beginning of freshman year for her experience. She was hospitalized in the first month of her freshman year.
“To be honest, I had not yet made close friends and went to the party expecting to meet someone when I got there, but they never came,” she said
Leone has also identified the freshman population as a more vulnerable crowd in regard to alcohol-related troubles.
“For freshmen coming in, it’s their first time away from home,” he said. “They’re introduced to the party atmosphere. I mean, I’m sure they’ve done some of that at home too, but really some badness can happen and that’s what we worry about.”
Cindy Stansbury can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org