Alcohol, College and Safety

Photo Courtesy / ESU Website Use the LiveSafe app to contact campus police.

By Angalyse Keyock

Contributing Writer

Education and the experience.

Two reasons high school seniors choose to go away to a college or university after graduation. Many students make their choice based on what school offers the best major for what they intend to study. Another component some potential students think about when choosing colleges is which school will provide the best “college experience.”

The Morning Call reported that ESU was one of the top three schools in the nation for alcohol-related arrests in April of 2014.

“The numbers are accurate, but they don’t tell the whole story,” said former ESU police chief, Robin Olson, in the article published in 2014,

“It is not a fair representation compared to private schools. Not everything at private schools becomes reported. You have to question what is reported? It is not a fair representation of our campus,” said Nancy Weaver, the assistant to the vice president of student affairs.

This article is considered a misrepresentation of ESU by faculty and staff at ESU due to the scattered and inaccurate statistics used in the article. At the time it was published, the staff of ESU did not consider it a time to punish students. Instead, they used this as a way to focus on alcohol safety on campus.

Substance abuse counseling is offered for students through the Department of Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) for students who are caught up in a situation off-campus or on-campus while intoxicated.

Wellness Education & Prevention Interim Coordinator Laura Suits explained this two-session reflective counseling session.

“Our main goal is to understand where they are at and that they have a better sense of their self,” said Suits.

In counseling students learn more about themselves and how they are acting, how to improve upon their actions for the next time they are put in a similar situation or to not even be in a similar situation.

“We have been a dry campus for a long time, but we know students still are going to drink,” said Weaver, “we are not here to lecture students, the concern is for the well-being of the student.”

ESU staff have concerns for the students who are drinking, and advise having a friend by your side to watch out for you. Both ESU and Pennsylvania law enforcement have Good Samaritan policies in effect in an attempt to minimize injury and the loss of life in alcohol poisoning cases.

In 2014, former governor, Tom Corbett signed the Good Samaritan bill. This policy was established to encourage students to come forward during these times without fear of “getting in trouble” with the school.

In the Good Samaritan policy there are set policies that must be acted on for you, the person reporting, to not get in legal trouble.

The person must provide his own name to the 911 operator or campus safety, police or emergency officer, as well as remain with the person needing medical assistance until emergency health care providers arrive.

This law promotes people to call emergency health services for the health of someone, without the fear of them receiving punishment for their actions.

“Our goal is to make sure we are taking care of the well-being of the student first,” said Dr. Weaver, “We are concerned for their benefit not ours.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, about 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, including motor-vehicle crashes.

If you are with someone who needs medical attention because of potential alcohol poising, knowing this law is something that could prevent you or your friend from becoming a statistic.  So far, there have been 22 alcohol-related violations and arrests on campus this semester.

“You need a friend, because if you are drinking and out of character, you compromised your decision making,” said Police Chief William Parish.

Close to 700,000 college students who are between 18 and 24 years of age are assaulted by a student who has been drinking prior, according to alcoholrehab.com.

A serious crime such as sexual assault is also linked to drinking too much. If you are too intoxicated to fight back or too incoherent to know what happened, you could end up with a sexually transmitted disease or unwanted pregnancy.

“It happened there it won’t happen to me,” said Tobin, describing what the typical student would say about recent alcohol arrests at local college campuses.

In reality, “It can happen to all of us.”   

Always make agreements with friends on sticking together, and monitoring how much each of you are drinking.

Most importantly, you should always be aware of your surroundings.

If walking alone or with a group and you still feel uneasy, having the LiveSafe phone application is essential to have.

The app has Activate SafeWalk, a GPS monitoring feature to track your every step until at your final destination.

If you feel like you are in an uncomfortable situation using this application to call for campus police, is very effective for finding your exact location.

“This application is a very powerful tool to stay safe whether living on campus or commuting”, said Tobin.

This app is available to send safety concerns via text messaging, including picture, video, and audio attachments, or even through live chat.

The main concern of the ESU staff, is that their students stay and feel safe while living and receiving and education at ESU.

For many, college is a whole new world, with many first experiences. Providing education and support on campus can make the transition from high school senior into college freshman a little less difficult.

For more information on the substance abuse counseling offered at ESU, go to www.esu.edu/students/counseling_services.

Email Angalyse at:

akeyock@live.esu.edu

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