Hospitalizations for alcohol have been trending upward on campus this year, with spikes at fraternity houses, freshman dorms and among the sophomore class. In fall quarter alone, there were 33 cases of Stanford students being transported to the emergency room for alcohol-related incidents, according to Ralph Castro, manager of the Substance Abuse Prevention Program at Vaden Health Center.
To date, a total of 48 students have been transported to the hospital, an increase from the 42 transports in the previous academic year. In winter quarter alone, there were 15 cases—six freshmen, three sophomores, five juniors and one senior. Transports were divided fairly evenly between men and women.
Castro expects the numbers to rise during spring quarter.
“It was a wet and rainy winter, which I think…lowers people’s social outlets,” Castro said. “As it starts to get sunny in spring, people are more active…so the numbers will go up in the spring.”
He added that Vaden will actively combat this trend throughout the remainder of the academic year.
“We’ll definitely be reaching out more to the resident staff, kind of reiterating our message,” Castro said. “We want all students, especially the staff, to prevent things from getting out of control.”
According to Castro, a common theme among students who went to the emergency room was the fact that no one attempted to dissuade them from engaging in high-risk behavior. Had that check existed, it would have prevented them from drinking so severely, he said.
“People drink because of social pressure,” Castro said. “We want to change the norm.
“If someone can point out that drinking to the point of vomiting is not normative, and it is reckless, people are more likely to listen,” he said. “So what we’re going to do in spring is really push the staff and everybody to have that conversation.”
While the number of alcohol transports is slightly higher this year, the number of alcohol citations handed out to undergraduates has actually gone down. The Department of Public Safety (DPS) has only given nine minor-in-possession (MIP) citations so far this year and 10 citations for drunk-in-public (DIP) offenses. Compared with last year’s 29 MIP and 19 DIP citations, the decrease is significant.
“I assume that on any given weekend, they probably could cite 100 [students] if they wanted to, and maybe it’s just that they’re trying to be more educational,” Castro said. “But it sets up a false sense of security for students.
“Those that do get cited will be like, wait a minute, why did I get cited, when 50 others aren’t? So there does need to be some consistency with that.”
Statistics on the total number of alcohol hospitalizations will be reported at the end of the 2010-11 academic year.
Bill Larson, a spokesman for DPS, declined to comment.