Alcohol poisoning rate plummets
Alcohol poisoning rates at Bowdoin have fallen significantly this year, while other schools are seeing dramatic increases. School officials here feel that they have found success in their own policies and are happy with the choices of students here.
Colby College and Harvard University are struggling with alcohol problems this year. According to The Kennebec Journal, Waterville police dealt with as many incidents of intoxication on the Colby campus the first week of fall semester as they did during all of last year. At Harvard, 24 undergrads were treated for alcohol poisoning compared to 15 during the same period last year. Bowdoin, however, has experienced a 50 percent drop in reported alcohol poisonings.
At Colby, more students are going to the hospital because the college decided not to staff the campus infirmary overnight, due to a lack of qualified nurses and budget cuts. According to published reports, Harvard officials feel the problem there is due to the culture of the school, and improvement should be placed there.
Here, Director of Residential Life Bob Graves and Assistant Director of Security Mike Brown both said Bowdoin's alcohol policy is what sets it apart from other schools. Brown said officials from other schools are "shocked" when they learn about Bowdoin's alcohol policy and "they are especially impressed when they learn of the cooperation we receive when dealing with violations and the personal responsibility and accountability each student demonstrates in these matters that makes working at Bowdoin unique."
Bowdoin's alcohol policy, found in the Student Handbook, prohibits drinking games and hard liquor on campus. In addition, there is an extensive registration process for all who wish to hold a party. Brown credits these and "student cooperation" to the low rate of alcohol poisonings.
People who go out, though, know that many of the parties around and off-campus are not registered, and hard liquor and drinking games are abundant. A few students have suggested that some are afraid to ask for help for fear of getting in trouble, and though stats may suggest Bowdoin is experiencing fewer incidents of alcohol poisoning than in the past, there are many cases about which Security is unaware.
Graves is optimistic. "I feel good about the decisions that the great majority of our students are making in regards to alcohol, and I am confident in our alcohol policy," he said. "Bowdoin has no more of an alcohol problem than other schools of our type."
Jenna O'Brien '06, a proctor in Moore Hall, agrees. She said, "We are experiencing a lot less (alcohol poisonings) than last year."
Brown said he and Jed Wartman, Assistant Director of Residential Life, are collaborating on a grant which targets first years and focuses on the prevention of high-risk drinking. The grant has already been approved. For now, he encourages students not to hesitate seeking help when they need it: "Our goal is not to get anyone in trouble, but to ensure their safety."
Signs of poisoning include mental confusion, vomiting, seizures, slow breathing, irregular breathing, hypothermia, bluish skin color, and paleness.
For information on sending a letter to the editor, please click here.