The story behind hard alcohol violations

As of September 22, 2016, Colby Security has intervened in 25 alcohol related incidents since students have arrived on campus. These incidents range from the confiscation of hard alcohol to the transportation of heavily intoxicated students to Maine General Hospital. Of the 25 recorded alcohol violations, 15 were medical calls – nine of which resulted in a transport.

Having been in school for only three weeks, these numbers seem alarming, especially compared to the mere eight violations (seven of which were transports) from September 2015. However, relative to the annual tallies of the last decade, the trend seems to be generally downsloping, with fewer violations occurring over time. According to Colby Director of Communications Kate Carlisle, “this suggests that recently implemented educational programs are effective, and that students have demonstrated increasing responsibility for their own personal health and safety, and the safety of others.”

Colby Director of Security Pete Chenevert explained that “we’re not looking at anything that is record breaking this year,” referring to the number of transports some students on the Hill find shocking. “It goes in cycles; we’ve had years when there’s been more, we’ve had years when there’s been less.”
Even though upperclassmen are sometimes transported as well, the issue primarily involves first-years. September is repeatedly a high-incidence month in the cycle. Some believe this is because many first year students experience their first drink at Colby. “It’s their first time away from home, they don’t have parents, it’s their first time experimenting, it’s their first time drinking with other people, and so I think they don’t know their limits so sometimes it catches up to them and they overdo it,” said Chenevert.
Without a doubt, the culture of pre-gaming at Colby can play a pivotal role in inebriation levels, especially when a student has never been exposed to drinking culture in the past. “The philosophy is to drink as much as you can as fast as you can to get as drunk as you can, and those are dangerous habits to get into.”
Carlisle mentioned that the College wants “students to understand the great risks of alcohol abuse and binge drinking.” The administration is currently collaborating with student leaders to find new ways to broaden the social activities on campus to deter attention from the drinking culture.
Medical calls refer to when a student calls the authorities on campus seeking help for a friend (or, in rare cases, for themselves). “On duty CAs can call us, a concerned friend can call us, or we can find an individual as we’re doing our patrols through the residence halls,” Chenevert told The Echo.

Security responds by appearing at the scene with either Colby Emergency Response paramedics, or, on very busy nights when CER is overworked, with Delta Ambulance paramedics. “When CER is dispatched, two EMTs will respond to the incident location and will evaluate the patient,” said CER Deputy Cheif of Operations Anoush Longerstaey. The emergency responders assess the student’s cognitive functions and physical state to determine the necessity of a transport to the hospital. If the individual is able to answer questions correctly, maintain balance, and speak without slurring, they are usually cleared; otherwise, they may be taken to Maine General by Security or an ambulance, depending on the gravity of the situation. The main goal is to “get the person to where they need to be to make sure they get the help they need as quickly as possible,” said Chenevert.
According to the Colby Security Department, most students are “very cooperative” and admit to needing help, which is precisely what Security is there to provide. “What we’re trying to do is get them the help they need at the time that they need it,” Chenevert explained. “And if it’s go to the hospital, then they go to the hospital.”
“We always want to encourage students to call for assistance or a wellness check whenever they are concerned about a friend,” commented Carlisle. However, many times concerned friends are wary of doing so out of fear of getting the individual or themselves in trouble.

Presently, Maine law dictates that a minor with increased levels of blood alcohol content seeking medical help at a hospital cannot be summonsed by the police. Thus, students will not face any issues with the law. Within Colby, “there will not be any real repercussions, especially for the person that called,” Chenevert guaranteed. The incidents are dealt with internally. Security refers cases to the Dean’s Office to provide the dean with an opportunity to have a talk with the student and maybe put them in touch with Colby’s Coordinator of Alcohol and Drugs Programs, Katie Sawyer. In fact, the student’s parents are not even alerted of the situation unless it becomes a habitual pattern or poses significant risks to the student’s safety and health.
Ultimately, calling for help can only improve the student’s situation. If a student is somewhat intoxicated but able to function properly, they will be cleared because their health is not at risk; but, if they are in a dangerous state of inebriation, they will receive the necessary attention without severe repercussions.

“I just want to make sure nobody gets hurt. That’s what keeps me awake at night – that some kid is being a good samaritan, put somebody to bed, and then [that person] asphyxiates because they vomit and can’t breathe, and we have a death on our hands. That would be the worst scenario ever, and I worry about that. That’s why I really want to stress to the students to call us, please. It’s better to be safe than sorry,” explained Chenevert. “Look out for each other and take care of each other and if you need help, don’t hesitate to call us.”

Clearly, the adults and authority figures on campus prioritize students’ health and safety. They understand that drinking will happen on a college campus, but they urge the importance of being aware of one’s peers at parties. “We want students to look out for each other too, because we want to make sure that if somebody’s in trouble, a friend knows it and can get them help,” stressed Chenevert. Indeed, even when partying, students must uphold the Affirmation and work as a community to keep each other safe.