This year’s number of alcohol-related transports, thirteen as of Friday, Oct. 14, is on par so far with the number that occurred last year, according to Ralph Castro, director of the new Office of Alcohol Policy and Education (OAPE).
This year, all of the cases were caused by excess consumption of hard alcohol and resulted in emergency room entrance at the Stanford Hospital & Clinics. This year’s cases help demonstrate the increasing prevalence of “pre-gaming” with hard alcohol, or consuming hard alcohol before going out to parties, Castro said.
The most recent transport incidents occurred during Full Moon on the Quad (FMOTQ), Castro said, adding five cases to the year’s total count. During the 2010-11 academic year, 16 transports occurred by the end of the third week; last year, FMOTQ took place during week six.
“The number of transports is on par with where we’ve been over the last three years,” Castro said. “The number of alcohol-related transports has been climbing up over the past three years.”
Alcohol transports declined from 119 cases in 2004-05 to 37 cases during the 2007-08 school year, Castro said. The numbers have risen since then, with 52 transports in 2008-09, 61 between 2009 and 2010 and 64 transports last year.
Castro mentioned almost five-years’ worth of data showing the increase of hard liquor in the form of shots by Stanford students.
“One hundred percent of students that have gone to the ER have misused or abused hard liquor,” Castro said. “About 85 percent of students who have gone to the ER have engaged in pre-gaming behaviors before they go out, and with hard liquor.”
Students who pre-game with hard liquor place themselves at much greater risk of alcohol poisoning and ER transport than students who do not, Castro said.
“That’s what we’re focusing on when we talk about ‘high-risk drinking,’” Castro said. “We’re trying to develop a culture that deemphasizes hard-liquor consumption among students–that gets them to understand the risks associated with it.”
The freshman class tends to represent a large proportion of the alcohol transports, but not the majority when compared to the rest of the undergraduate and graduate communities, Castro said. The junior class is least represented.
Of the 13 transports this year, eight were male and five were female. All were undergraduates–five each in the classes of 2014 and 2015, one junior and two seniors.
Citations at Stanford
The number of alcohol transports is independent of the number of alcohol citations which the Stanford Department of Public Safety (SDPS) grants, according to Castro.
“Last year, we had some of the lowest liquor-law citations on campus yet one of the highest transport numbers that we’ve had over the past five years,” Castro said.
From Sept. 20 to Oct. 12 of this year, the SDPS issued two Minor in Possession of Alcohol (MIP) citations, four Drunk in Public (DIP) citations and one Driving Under the Influence (DUI) ticket, according to SDPS Public Information Officer Bill Larson.
Larson also said that SDPS issued 15 DIPs, 20 MIPs and two DUIs during the 2010-11 academic year to graduate and undergraduate students.
“We partner with the police and see them as an integral part of what we do,” Castro said. “Being cited by the police for an MIP or DIP is part of the educational milieu–students learn a lot when they have to go to court.”
Castro said other universities are also witnessing trends in excess consumption of hard liquor.
Though citations at Stanford were low last year, alcohol citations and transports have been increasing across colleges nationwide.
A Yale Daily News report found that alcohol-related incidents increased by 27 percent at Yale University between 2008 and 2009, and Yale officials suggested a five-year escalating trend in alcohol abuse.
Alcohol violations increased 13 percent at the University of California, Los Angeles last year, according to the Daily Bruin, UCLA’s student newspaper, and rose from 29 cases to 137 to 238 at the University of Southern California (USC) between 2008 and 2010, according to the Daily Trojan, USC’s student paper.
Harvard, which saw a similar decrease in transports from 2005-2008, has experienced an increase in transports over the last three years, according to The Crimson. UC-Berkeley reported twice as many transports during the first few weeks of the semester this year as compared to last year, according to a Daily Californian article.
New Stanford Initiatives
Back on the Farm, Castro said that the OAPE is working to offer alcohol-free alternatives to “target pre-gaming behavior.”
“Students might feel more inclined to go to social events that deemphasize alcohol beforehand,” Castro said.
Cardinal Nights is one such alternative that OAPE sponsors, Castro wrote in a separate email to The Daily.
“Cardinal Nights is the new initiative to provide more alcohol-free options for socializing on weekends,” wrote Angelina Cardona ’11 in an email to The Daily.
Cardona, who served as ASSU president during the 2010-11 school year, is now an assistant director and community engagement coordinator for OAPE. Over 250 and 100 students respectively attended TGIF and Bingo Night–Cardinal Nights’ first two events–according to Cardona.
For the remaining weekends of October, Cardinal Nights will sponsor six alcohol-free social events, as well as one on Halloween. Events include a partnership with FLiCKS, a comedy show next Saturday, a semi-formal homecoming party the following weekend and a Stanford-USC game-viewing party the weekend after that, Cardona said.
Cardinal Nights also offers grants to dormitories, students groups and individuals to fund their own alcohol-free events, Cardona added.
“Our goal is to provide a more vibrant social scene on campus that gives students options for how they spend their weekend nights,” Cardona said.
OAPE is also working with residential staff to discourage students from high-risk drinking.
“We’re working with staff to ask students really pointed questions about what their plans are for the night so that they can start to intervene early and prevent problems before they begin,” Castro said.