Good Sam numbers decrease following hard alcohol ban

by Paula Mendoza | 10/29/15 8:51pm

There was a 32 percent decrease in alcohol-related incidents last spring and summer after the campus-wide hard alcohol ban was put into effect, according to data from the Student Wellness Center. The number of medical encounters and Good Samaritan calls have both decreased as well.

From April to August 2014, there were 126 alcohol-related incidents handled by Safety and Security, the residential education office or both, while there were only 86 incidents in the same period during 2015. Good Sam calls comprised 27 percent of alcohol-related incidents this April to August, which is up from 23 percent in the same period last year.

The number of medical encounters decreased from 90 in April to August 2014 to 59 in the same period in 2015, while the number of Good Samaritan calls to Safety and Security for those periods in 2014 and 2015 were 29 and 23, respectively.

Data is collected monthly, not termly.

At Homecoming earlier this month, fewer individuals were sent to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center than in past years, Kinne said. Safety and Security was able to transport more people to Dick’s House. Only students who were severely intoxicated were transported by ambulance to DHMC, Kinne said. DHMC hospitalizations related to student alcohol consumption also declined this past year, he said.

College President Phil Hanlon introduced the hard alcohol ban as a part of the “Moving Dartmouth Forward” policy initiative. The ban prohibits both the possession and consumption of hard alcohol with a proof of 30 or higher on Dartmouth’s campus and at events sponsored by the College or College-recognized organizations.

Further actions have been taken to enforce this policy, including hiring additional Safety and Security officers and requiring undergraduate advisers to complete additionaly rounds on “likely drinking nights” — Wednesday through Saturday.

There have been some incidents where hard alcohol has been discovered, but the level of intoxication has not been as severe as it has been in the past, Kinne said. He said he attributed the decrease to the hard alcohol ban.

Not everyone credits decreased alcohol-related incidents to the hard alcohol ban, however.

“We’re going to continue to collect data to evaluate the College’s efforts, but we don’t have causal data so we can’t attribute it to any particular policy,” Student Wellness Center program assessment and evaluation coordinator Mary Nyhan said.

Nyhan works with Safety and Security, Health Services and the judicial affairs office to track high-risk drinking and other alcohol-related data.

“We are working to better understand student barriers to calling ‘Good Sams,’” Nyhan said. “Our goal is to work with students to make them more comfortable calling ‘Good Sams.’”

Kinne said that regardless of the reason of a call, Safety and Security is concerned with safety first, not punishment.

“[Safety and Security does not] make the determination if it’s a ‘Good Sam’ or not,” Safety and Security director Harry Kinne said. “We just take the calls and would respond either way — our response isn’t any different.”

Hanover Police captain Eric Zaber supports the Good Sam policy.

“I think the idea is fantastic,” he said. “I understand why the school has chosen to do that. I support the initiatives and I support the school.”

Zaber, who came to Hanover in May from Illinois, noted that there was a similar Good Samaritan law that sprung from the heroin epidemic there.

“Good Sam is excellent for not only students but for everyone,” Zaber said.

Although he has had limited interactions with students, Zaber wants students to be comfortable calling 911 if someone is in physical or psychological trouble, he said.

“They should be able to call us without fear of prosecution,” he said.

Even while the numbers have gone down, Zaber still encourages students to reach out when they need help.

“Our number one priority is saving lives. Our whole presence is to protect and help people,” Zaber said. “If you’re in a bad situation, we want you to call to get some help.”