On the heels of a long summer, unfortunate incidents have occurred on campus that have required the involvement of the University’s Department of Public Safety. In the month of August, six students, three of whom were first-years, have been hospitalized due to high levels of intoxication.
“[It’s a] scary thought that so many hospitalizations are happening on our campus. It seems like [that’s] something that would happen at a bigger school,” Terry Hall ’19 said.
This number is especially alarming in comparison to the amount of student hospitalizations occurring in past years: in August 2014, there were only three hospitalizations on record, and in August 2013 there were none. While the increase in hospitalizations may appear as an ominous sign of what’s to come, Chief of Public Safety Stephen Barilar holds a more positive outlook on the subject.
“You have to take so much into consideration,” Barilar said. “Students may feel more comfortable calling us; they’re more aware of amnesty than before.”
Under the University’s Medical Amnesty Policy, a student may call Public Safety if he or she thinks another student is overly intoxicated and may need medical attention, without worrying that he or she and the student in need will be subject to official sanctions and conduct record.
The University’s determination to keep its students safe is made more apparent in noting that its Amnesty Policy differs from that of the state’s, in which the student who made the call avoids punishment but the student at risk does not.
“[The Medical Amnesty Policy] is definitely something to remember, especially when hearing that a bunch of people have been hospitalized,” Ruby Gould ’19 said.
Public Safety received calls from friends of five of the six students who were hospitalized, which very well supports Barilar’s viewpoint. Barilar also said that the incidents this year “by and large weren’t as bad.” Still, that in no way guarantees that Public Safety might not have a demanding year ahead.
“Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday are generally our busier days. [Or] when there are big events on campus, our number [of calls] will typically go up,” Barilar said.
When getting the call, Barilar said the top concern is always the safety of the students. Once that is secure, he wishes most will take the incident as a learning experience.
“They don’t know how much they can drink, how much their bodies can handle. We [Public Safety] hope they learn throughout their time here,” Barilar said.