Alcohol-Related Incidents Spike at Miami University, 21 Students Treated Over One Weekend

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Alcohol-Related Incidents Spike at Miami University, 21 Students Treated Over One Weekend

By Britni de la Cretaz 02/16/17

Of the 21 students hospitalized, 17 were girls and all but two were under the legal drinking age of 21.

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People partying with alcohol.

It seems that every week, there's a new story about drinking-related incidents at a fraternity or sorority—and this week is no exception. According to Cincinnati.com, the Oxford Fire Department responded to 21 alcohol-related calls between last Thursday and Sunday in the area of Miami University (MU) in Ohio.

There were seven hospitalizations on Thursday and Friday alone, according to the Miami University Police Department. The calls came on the evening of "Blackout Thursday," which marked the end of "rush," when new pledges are recruited to sororities or fraternities. The university's Greek groups had suspended drinking during this process. 

This comes just weeks after the death of 18-year-old freshman Erica Buschick—found dead in her dorm room—which authorities say may have been alcohol-related.

The police told WCPO Cincinnati that the overconsumption of alcohol is not only dangerous for the students, but is spreading emergency services thin and jeopardizing other residents in the city who may need help.

Oxford Police Sgt. Jon Varley told WCPO that the hospital nearly had to turn away other patients due to the volume of students admitted to the emergency room over the weekend for alcohol poisoning. He said the problem was the worst that he’s seen in his decades on the force.

Of the 21 students hospitalized, 17 were girls and all but two were under the legal drinking age of 21. “It is past social drinking,” said Varley. Now, school officials, Greek organizations, and city officials are discussing possible solutions.

MU spokeswoman Claire Wagner told Cincinnati.com that currently, all incoming students have to complete an online educational course about alcohol and that the school has a “Good Samaritan Policy” which shields students from judicial action if they seek help in alcohol or drug related emergencies.

However, these efforts don't seem to be enough. A recent study found that alcohol interventions have little to no effect on curbing drinking in fraternities. Just a few weeks ago, Texas State University suspended four fraternities for alcohol-related violations following the death of a student. And last fall, Washington State University canceled several fraternity and sorority events amid concerns about alcohol and drug use.

Varley said a culture change is going to be necessary to stop these incidents from happening. "It’s going to have to be a grassroots change and the change of the culture of Miami [Ohio],” he told WCPO.

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Britni de la Cretaz is a freelance writer, baseball enthusiast, and recovered alcoholic living in Boston. Follow her on Twitter at @britnidlc.

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