SUA crews follow strict protocols for treating intoxicated students. Those with blood-alcohol levels above .30 percent are usually transported to a hospital emergency department. With blood-alcohol levels between .10 and .30 and no other injuries or drugs involved, students may be transported to the Health Center under a program called MISSHAP (Monitoring of Intoxicated Students; Support and Health Assessment Program), a bedside watch for intoxicated students. After several hours, the student is usually transported home, with recommendations for fluids, nutrition, and rest. After MISSHAP observation, some students have complained about what they perceive as interference in their personal lives, Jaehnig reports. "Students ask us, 'Why didn't you just let me sleep it off?' We tell them this is not a risk we want to take. We're well aware of students on other campuses who have died because someone let them sleep it off." |
Students who reach the point of endangering themselves or others, destroying property, breaking the law, or otherwise crossing the clearly marked lines in the Code of Student Conduct, are charged with violations and referred to the University Judicial System. According to Anastasia L. Urtz, director of judicial affairs, the number of conduct violations doubled in the past academic year, from 803 to 1,601 cases. Among these cases, 917 were connected to alcohol, while another 105 involved other drugs, most commonly marijuana. "Since we're still identifying the scope of our substance-abuse problem, we expect these numbers to go up before they go down," says Bergen-Cico. "We believe we're looking at four to five years at least before numbers fall and we see a significant shift in the alcohol and drug culture on this campus."
Students charged with serious or repeated violations may be referred to Options, a short-term counseling and education program that helps them confront substance abuse. During the 1998-99 academic year, 250 students were seen in the Options program; while walk-ins are welcome, the "overwhelming majority" were first-year white males referred through the University Judicial System. "We don't deal with the students in a punitive format or label anyone an alcoholic or addict," Bergen-Cico says. "Our program encourages students to be honest with themselves, set their own goals, and modify their behavior."
Options's non-threatening approach reflects a growing trend. "Many people who work with campus substance-abuse issues have changed their strategy regarding abstinence versus moderation," notes psychology professor Kate Carey, who has published extensively on alcohol abuse. "We don't say, 'Do Not Drink.' We ask students to drink less and avoid dangerous scenarios. Students relate to this approach."
Wells agrees that just saying no doesn't work. "We're not recreating Prohibition, we're providing useful information about the risks students are taking," he says. "But make no mistakeas an institution of higher education, we have a responsibility to enforce laws regarding the illegal use of alcohol and other drugs."
Fraternity and sorority members and student athletes, shown to be at higher risk than other students for abuse of alcohol and other drugs, receive special attention to lower that risk. At SU, new Greek members must take Alcohol 101, a two-hour seminar on the dangers of alcohol abuse. The seminar includes a visit to a virtual bar on CD-ROM, where students pretend to consume drinks with varying alcohol content and watch their blood-alcohol levels rise. "The Greek community paid attention to this problem before the entire University focused on it," reports Paul Buckley, SU's program coordinator for Greek life. In 1998, 49 SU students attended the Greek Summit on College Alcohol Use, facilitated by Michael Haines of Northern Illinois University, a national expert on reducing high-risk drinking. Sorority houses at SU are alcohol-free, and fraternity houses reduce the risk of alcohol abuse by adhering to University policies. Greek parties, for instance, must be registered with SU, beer must be served in bottles and cansno kegsand a security person must be hired to check proof of age. "I wouldn't say the system is perfect, but Greek students are aware of the issues, and Greek leaders are encouraging responsible behavior by their peers," Buckley says.
On the athletics front, Syracuse has submitted a proposal for an NCAA CHOICES grant to implement an athlete-targeted alcohol education program. According to the Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention, student athletes have the highest binge drinking rates among students on college campuses. Athletics advisor Kenneth Miles suspects that some student athletes drink to escape a double dose of pressure from academics and athletics, and others drink because of peer pressure. Bergen-Cico, a former student athlete, believes student athletes are also prone to pushing themselves to extremes. "Some do everything to excess," she says, "including self-destructive drinking."
High-risk students, however, aren't the only ones targeted for prevention. The SAPHE Office develops educational programs for the campus at large, with a full calendar of residence hall workshops, public information campaigns, and an alcohol awareness week. It also sponsors a peer education program. "If anyone can get through to a student, it's another student," says peer educator Robyn Enes '00. "We understand that college is a time for partying and experimentation. Instead of just condemning drinking, we explain its benefits and risks."