Only five students attended the Sept. 18 high risk alcohol open forum hosted by Alan Hill, vice president of student academic life, and other Student Academic Life staff.
The forum was advertised at the end of an email Hill sent out to the DePauw community on Sept. 15. The e-mail addressed DePauw University’s binge drinking issue and the focus of underage students, specifically first-year students, consuming hard alcohol.
The email listed some sanctions that will be effective immediately. These sanctions include, “Individual students, under the age of 21, found responsible for being in possession of hard alcohol will receive a community standards fine of $250. Consuming hard alcohol results in higher level sanctions and longer probation. Student Academic Life staff and Public Safety officers will conduct additional rounds in the residence halls and on campus. Public Safety will continue to issue citations to the Putnam County court system when they have cause to interact with minors who have consumed alcohol.”
According to Hill, the abuse of hard alcohol campus-wide has resulted in an increase in hospitalization numbers and Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) levels found in students.
Dorian Shager, dean of campus life, told the forum that there have been 13 hospitalizations this year with an average BAC of .29. According to information provided by Public Safety, a coma is possible at a .35 BAC, only .06 higher than the hospitalization average for this year.
From 2012-2017, there were 36 hospitalizations, with an average BAC of .27. The 13 hospitalizations that have taken place this year may reflect a different drinking culture than previously seen on DePauw’s campus.
Since the beginning of the academic year, only one student has called Public Safety for a wellness check. Hill and the other Student Academic Life staff emphasized that it is going to take student initiative to fix DePauw’s binge drinking issue.
According to information provided by the Indiana College Substance Use Survey, 62.7 percent of Indiana college students who responded to the survey had consumed alcohol in the last month, whereas 83 percent of DePauw students who responded said they had consumed alcohol in the last month. There was no record of what percentage of the student body responded.
While binge drinking trends are decreasing at colleges nationwide, DePauw’s binge drinking rate is increasing, according to Hill’s email.
Chapter Assisting Trained Students (CATS), is a student initiative implemented to keep drunk students safe at parties and is run by senior Erika Killion, student body president. The CATS program is a paid position which assigns four CATS to any party that requests help from the organization. There is no charge to have CATS at any party on campus and students involved in CATS do not report what they see at parties to Public Safety or the administration.
The Indiana Lifeline Law protects those who call for help, stay with the person who needs help, and cooperate with authority. According to Hill’s email, students must “Call. Stay. Cooperate.” in order to keep campus safe.