By Areena Arora, Managing Editor
Every year, more than 1,800 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die from alcohol-related injuries in the United States, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).
Factors such as unstructured time, widespread availability of alcohol and inconsistent enforcement of underage drinking laws contribute to college students’ alcohol consumption, according to NIAAA’s website.
On Feb. 7, freshman Luke Gabbert was found dead in the Delaware Run Creek, south of 28 Franklin St.
Hypothermia and an injury in the upper cervical spine from falling in the creek caused his death. Alcohol at the level of 0.21 percent was also detected, which is nearly three times the legal limit of 0.8 percent.
Gabbert was a new pledge of Phi Kappa Psi fraternity and also a soccer player.
In May, Gabbert’s file was closed by the Delaware County Prosecutor who concluded no felony charges will be filed. Julie Datko, public information officer, said Gabbert’s file will not be presented to grand jury.
Meredith Dixon, assistant director of Residential Life said ResLife, takes an active role in preventing alcohol-related accidents in several ways—by providing educational programming related to alcohol and drugs, by offering programs that provide an alternative to drinking and by enforcing campus policies.
Bob Wood, director of Public Safety, said, “We recognize alcohol consumption is a huge issue … Our officers are always actively patrolling and our first priority is always the safety of the student.”
According to OWU’s student handbook, “Immediate medical attention should be sought for students whose safety is endangered by the overconsumption of alcohol or other drugs.”
Dixon said, “The Amnesty Policy is also set up as a resource for students … This policy is in place because we, as a university, are not seeking to get students in trouble – we want to get students help.”
The Amnesty Policy, written in the student handbook, says, “Students who seek medical attention for themselves or others because of the overconsumption of alcohol or other drugs will not be charged with violations of the alcohol or illegal drugs policies through the Office of Student Conduct. However, students who repeatedly endanger themselves by overconsumption may face administrative intervention in other forms.”
If students choose to drink, Dixon said she recommends they plan ahead—know who is hosting the party/event, who will accompany them and have a plan for when to leave/how to find their friend if separated.
“Don’t accept drinks from anyone you don’t know, and don’t drink anything if you don’t know what it is or where it came from,” she said.
She also said students should recognize what their limits are and drink less than that. If you realize you’ve had too much to drink, ask a sober friend for help or call Public Safety.
“Again, per the Amnesty Policy, we’d rather have students get help when they need it than try to handle things themselves when they are in need of medical attention,” she said.
Wood said that OWU has a pretty good reputation for tolerance. It is OK to drink or not. “Do what’s comfortable for you,” he said, emphasizing that students shouldn’t feel pressured into drinking alcohol.
There are plenty of resources on campus to help with alcohol-related issues.
Dixon said, “If students are concerned about alcohol abuse, there are several resources on campus, which include Counseling Services, Health Services and the Chaplain’s Office (all of which are confi-
dential). If students have concerns about a friend or roommate, their RA or RLC can help them approach that subject with their friend [to] provide assistance.”
On Tuesday, Aug. 30, more than 500 OWU athletes took the “It’s on Us,” pledge. OWU’s athletics department is focusing this year’s programming on a national NCAA program called “It’s on Us.”
According to an email by faculty athletic representatives, the national program was student-initiated and is aimed at promoting proactive prevention and reporting sexual assault.
“The motto, “It’s On Us,” communicates that each person has a responsibility in this cause,” according to the email.
On Friday, Sept. 2, OWU’s soccer team hosted a memorial game for Gabbert and played against Hope College. Gabbert’s jersey (number 19) was retired at the game.