The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Partying Too Hard?

The freshman class this semester is quickly racking up the alcohol violations. Is it a question of stricter enforcement or are they… partying too hard?
Partying Too Hard?

Clarification: John Sanger was quoted as saying “Signs that a student has “had enough” are a slowed reaction time, unresponsiveness, the inability to stand or sit up, shallow or irregular breathing, clammy and/or pale skin and even a bluish tint in the lips.”Sanger would like to clarify that “had enough” is not the correct term. “Students who are unresponsive, cannot sit or stand, have irregular breathing, clammy or pale skin or a bluish tint to their lips are not “students who have had enough”, but are students who are showing signs of alcohol poisoning and need immediate transport to the emergency room. Alcohol poisoning is a life-threatening condition,” Sanger said in an e-mail sent to The Daily Campus.The Daily Campus apologizes for the confusion.

A young SMU woman lies lifeless in the arms of a friend who carries her down a few parking lot garage stairs at 12:14 a.m. When they reach the freshmen dorm McElvaney, the friend attempts to stand her up, but she flops like a noodle to the ground. He picks her up again and carries her across a small patch of grass toward the back doors of the dormitory.

Just around the corner, another drunken freshman decides to shove his khaki pants down around his ankles and sprinkle Boaz’s front lawn.

[There was] no tree, no pole, no nothing nearby, said sophomore Business and International Affairs major Jeff Brashares, who witnessed the incident take place while riding Giddy Up from the library to Shuttles Hall.     

An ambulance zooms down SMU Boulevard, making speedy turns before stopping in the parking lot behind McElvaney Hall. The unstable, intoxicated female student witnessed just moments before is placed inside the vehicle.

Police declined to comment on the young woman.

She was the eleventh SMU freshman to go to the hospital for alcohol poisoning within the first five weeks of school, according to Richard Shafer, chief of SMU Police.

Nearly 100 more freshmen have received alcohol violations since school started in August.

Compared to the first five weeks of school last year, the number of alcohol violations among freshmen this year has practically doubled, and the number of hospitalized freshmen has more than tripled.

Heavy drinking occurs in fraternity houses, residential halls and off-campus house parties, according to Chief Shafer.

Freshman Nicole Francis said she and her friends prefer going to bars, usually those on lower Greenville Avenue like Speak Easy and M Street.

When out at night, Francis said she noticed that the issue doesn’t seem to be “that people are overly intoxicated, it’s the number of people who are drunk – everyone is drunk.”

Aware of the rising numbers, Dr. Lori White, vice president of Student Affairs, called for an emergency meeting with student leaders on Aug. 28 to discuss the best way to handle freshmen drinking.

The resident assistants, who attended the meeting, are “kind of the front line of defense,” White said. They see a lot of the drunkenness in the dorms and can provide good suggestions on how to combat the numbers.

White also said that she is considering conducting follow-up meetings in the residence halls to hear what insights freshmen can provide.

“I would love to hear from students about ways in which they think we can partner with our student population to reduce the high-risk behavior,” she said.

Freshman Marion McHenry suggests that officials be less strict toward on-campus parties.

“If we could have more parties on campus then there would be no need for people to pre-game as much before they go off to bars,” McHenry said.

The Task Force on Substance Abuse Prevention, appointed by SMU President R. Gerald Turner in 2007, is in the midst of establishing partnerships with bars and forming a list of local drinking establishments that agree to use ID-scanners, according to White, member of the Task Force.

If a student party is registered with the Task Force to take place at a bar that is not one of the approved establishments on the list, SMU will notify TABC to keep a lookout for underage drinking, according to Chief Shafer.

Where are some of these non-listed establishments? Lower Greenville Avenue – the area in which students involved in the “more serious cases” were partying, said Chief Shafer.

Freshman Charlie Williamson believes the reason for the rising number of drunken freshmen is that SMU police are more stringent this year.

“I don’t think the freshmen are being any crazier than when my older brother and sister were freshmen here,” Williamson said.

“I can understand why [the Task Force] would be strict,” McHenry said. “But at the same time I don’t think they should go out looking for illegal drinking in all corners of the campus. … Drinking goes on at virtually every school.”

White disagrees; she said she believes that the SMU police force hasn’t changed the level of enforcement and that the problem is the freshmen class.

What the freshmen are experiencing is “not an over-enforcement; it’s an enforcement of the law,” White said.

John Sanger, director of SMU’s Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention program, agrees. “I think every incoming freshmen class has sort of its own personality … [and this year] we’re just seeing an increase in alcohol violations.”

Reasons for excessive drinking run the gambit. One of the more obvious explanations is that when students are away from their parents for the first time, they make not-so-smart decisions. The primary reason, though, is that students tend to come to college with preconceived notions, according to Sanger.

Sanger said some students are under the false pretense that excessive drinking is the norm, when “the majority of students either don’t drink or are making low-risk drinking choices.”

Many programs around campus intend to change this mindset. One example is the “Social Norm” campaign, which was implemented by SMU Center for Alcohol & Drug Abuse Prevention several years ago.

SMU also offers a number of organizations and programs on campus that help educate students on alcohol abuse. Training for Intervention Procedures is a popular program on campus that offers a two-hour crash course teaching students how to intervene with a friend “before they’re falling off a bar stool,” as Sanger puts it.

“I think the main danger of excessive drinking is that people usually don’t assign a sober buddy to their group,” McHenry said. “There is no one to make logical choices, such as how to get home – how to tell when enough is enough.”

Signs that a student has “had enough” are a slowed reaction time, unresponsiveness, the inability to stand or sit up, shallow or irregular breathing, clammy and/or pale skin and even a bluish tint in the lips, according to Sanger.

While officials hope underage students simply don’t drink, some understand that it is practically inevitable.

“I don’t want to be the fun police. I was a college student once, also … [With that said], have one drink, don’t have ten,” White said.

Sanger, too, suggests turning it down a few notches. “Just because there’s a party somewhere every night of the week doesn’t mean you need to go to all of them, and if you go to all of them, it doesn’t mean you need to drink at all of them.”

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