Dick's House numbers on rise

by Sarah Rubenstein | 10/13/98 5:00am

The number of inebriated students who received overnight care at Dick's House last year nearly doubled the amount that stayed during the 1996-97 school year.

Seventy-eight students spent the night at Dick's House last year, up from 40 the year before.

Director of College Health Services Jack Turco said the reduced overnight fee of $150 last year -- down from $500 -- may have contributed to the increase.

"The fact that they did jump significantly ... would indicate to me that there was less of that negative financial reason for coming down here," Turco said.

Turco said the high fee at Dick's House was a complaint among students during the 1995-96 school year, when the number of students that stayed overnight was 47, down from 78 during the 1994-95 school year.

He said students were concerned the high cost discouraged those who needed medical attention from staying overnight at Dick's House.

The near-doubling of overnight visits last year may indicate satisfaction with the lower fee, but Turco said Safety and Security brought most of the students who stayed. He also said the statistics often fluctuate from year to year.

Proctor Robert McEwen said it is "too early to tell" if the reduced overnight fee contributed to the increase.

"I don't think it [the reduced fee] has changed or affected what we're doing," McEwen said. "The individuals that we're dealing with are probably similar to what it's been like in the past."

He said "a few more students" have called Safety and Security to report that their friends were "having some difficulty."

"I think that students are paying more attention to providing more care for friends," McEwen said.

While Safety and Security must report all of its interactions with students to the Office of the Dean of the College, the names of students who go to Dick's House without assistance from Safety and Security are confidential.

Turco said the "Good Samaritan clause" of the College's alcohol policy has made it easier for campus organizations and individuals to bring students to Dick's House.

The clause allows students to seek professional medical help for dangerously intoxicated peers without risking College discipline for being intoxicated themselves or for having provided the peer with alcohol.

However, medical personnel request to give a breathalyzer test to any "good Samaritan" who seems "significantly intoxicated," Turco said.

If the "good Samaritan" is at medical risk, Dick's House can ask the student to stay overnight as well.

Medical employees request that Safety and Security intercept the student if he or she decides to leave Dick's House. Safety and Security then decides how to proceed with the student.

There was one "good Samaritan" who felt "kind of a little bit coerced" to stay at Dick's House, Turco said.

Turco said he does not expect the $150 fee to change in the near future. Student fees are used to cover the costs of caring for students overnight -- not as a fine, he said.

Without the overnight fees, the costs to cover overnight stays would fall on the entire student body.