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  #1  
Old 10-07-2004, 10:58 AM
EXColony EXColony is offline
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Exclamation Five binge-drinking deaths 'just the tip of the iceberg'

Make sure you read the last section...

JP


Five binge-drinking deaths 'just the tip of the iceberg'
By Robert Davis, USA TODAY

This month has been deadly for binge-drinking college students.

Five underclassmen in four states appear to have drunk themselves to death, police say, after friends sent their pals to bed assuming that they would "sleep it off."


Some college presidents are promising to crack down on underage drinking - four of the students were too young to drink legally. Others have shut down fraternity houses where bodies were found.


But one expert calls those moves too little, too late. "It's locking the barn door after the horse has been stolen," says Henry Wechsler, a Harvard University researcher who has studied campus drinking. He says schools with weak enforcement of drinking rules put students at greater risk.


"The schools that have the greatest problems take the easiest solutions," he says. "They have educational programs and re-motivation programs. But they don't try to change the system. These deaths are just the tip of the iceberg."


In some college towns, drink specials at bars and loose enforcement of liquor laws make it easier and cheaper for students to get drunk than to go to a movie, Wechsler says. The result, research suggests, is 1,400 student deaths a year, including alcohol-related falls and car crashes.


"Some schools enforce," he says. "But others have a 'don't ask, don't tell' policy. It's a wink."


Others say schools can't stop a young adult who chooses to drink.


Drinking problems start in high school and are simply let loose in college, says the American Council on Education, a Washington-based advocacy group that represents about 1,800 colleges and universities.


"Shouldn't colleges crack down on alcohol consumption?" asks Sheldon Steinbach, ACE's general counsel. "They could. But you would be turning the college into a quasi-police state and impairing their ability to grow up."


All of these students, last seen drinking heavily, were found dead:


Samantha Spady, 19, of Beatrice, Neb., was found Sept. 5 in a Colorado State University fraternity.


Lynn Gordon Bailey Jr., 18, of Dallas, was found Sept. 17 at a University of Colorado fraternity house.


Thomas Ryan Hauser, 23, a junior from Springfield, Va., was found Sept. 19 in his apartment near Virginia Tech.


Blake Adam Hammontree, 19, of Medford, Okla., was found Sept. 30 in a fraternity house at the University of Oklahoma.


Bradley Barrett Kemp, 20, of McGehee, Ark., was found at home Saturday at the University of Arkansas.


The official cause of death has not been determined for the three most recent cases.


Colleges with large Greek systems and big, highly competitive intercollegiate athletic programs have the highest rates of student binge drinking, Wechsler says. "There is a culture of drinking on campuses that must change," says Patty Spady, Samantha's mother. "People put her in a room thinking that she would sleep it off."

But chug too many drinks - Samantha is said to have consumed up to 40 beers or shots of vodka the night she died - and the blood alcohol level continues to rise even after a person passes out. Alcohol kills when the person is too intoxicated to maintain his own airway. He then suffocates on his own vomit or on an otherwise harmless obstruction, such as a pillow.


"These kids don't know this," says Spady, who set up a foundation (SAMspadyfoundation.org) to find ways to prevent deaths on campus. "Drunks cannot take care of drunks." Spady urges students to "stay sober to take care of your friends."
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  #2  
Old 10-07-2004, 11:05 AM
33girl 33girl is offline
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In these uncertain times, it's kinda comforting to know that Henry Wechsler is still a great big media whore, using others' misfortune to advance his own name.

Kiss kiss.
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  #3  
Old 10-07-2004, 11:29 AM
DeltAlum DeltAlum is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by 33girl
Henry Wechsler is still a great big media whore, using others' misfortune to advance his own name.
While that may very well be, which of his comments and which of the assertions in the article would you disagree with?

My only comment at this point is probably sounding real redundant.

There is a real problem that is growing and I believe that peer pressure may be the only way to deal with it.

Colleges have tried, law enforcement officials have tried, parents have tried, GLO's have tried -- all with little or no success.
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  #4  
Old 10-07-2004, 11:45 AM
33girl 33girl is offline
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Originally posted by DeltAlum
While that may very well be, which of his comments and which of the assertions in the article would you disagree with?
With the assertion that it's up to the school. The more it's blamed on the school, the more power that gives the school to dictate and regulate students' behavior.

It's up to parents to teach students how to use liquor responsibly before they even get to college. Unfortunately, our puritanical liquor laws prevent many parents from doing so.

Basically, what Mr. Steinbach said.
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  #5  
Old 10-07-2004, 12:22 PM
Munchkin03 Munchkin03 is offline
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At the risk of sounding like a broken record...

What are the schools' policies towards students who might come into an infirmary or to the ER regarding severe intoxication? Are the students punished for drinking when they're trying to get help? Are the friends who bring them in implicated?

At my undergrad, students were encouraged to call EMS--a University-based service--to transport them to the infirmary to assess their level of intoxication. At my grad school, the student ambulance service transports them to the ER across the street. Both of these are confidential; in all cases, the bill can be sent to the student to ensure confidentiality.

Both schools stress over and over again that the health of the student is more important to them than punishing someone for underage drinking. All students I've experienced--whether or not they are underage, independent or affiliated--feel free using these services.

Both systems appear to be successful.

What are the policies regarding severe intoxication at CU? CSU? UA? Oklahoma? From what I found on their websites--or, actually, didn't find--there is no such emergency service for students.
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  #6  
Old 10-07-2004, 12:46 PM
valkyrie valkyrie is offline
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Re: Five binge-drinking deaths 'just the tip of the iceberg'

Quote:
Originally posted by EXColony
Colleges with large Greek systems and big, highly competitive intercollegiate athletic programs have the highest rates of student binge drinking, Wechsler says. "There is a culture of drinking on campuses that must change," says Patty Spady, Samantha's mother. "People put her in a room thinking that she would sleep it off."
Okay, why is he blaming the schools for this? Is he saying that large Greek systems and athletic programs cause binge drinking? Hi, I learned freshman year of college that CORRELATION DOES NOT IMPLY CAUSATION. Maybe kids who are already drinking in high school are more likely to go to schools with large Greek and athletic systems.

33girl is right on, as usual when it comes to alcohol issues. Since when are schools responsible for raising the country's children? If 18 year olds are not developed, intelligent and responsible enough to function on their own at college, then their parents should keep them at home for a couple more years -- maybe they could attend a community college or nearby university. Isn't the main goal of raising children teaching them to live independently once they leave the nest? If they don't know how to fly at 18, don't push them out because they'll crash and get hurt.
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  #7  
Old 10-07-2004, 05:52 PM
DeltAlum DeltAlum is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by 33girl
With the assertion that it's up to the school.
While schools themselves are being named in suits, how can they not take a part in the control of the groups involved?

I also know that some folks feel that any university control over chapters is bad -- but my experience is that no or too little control can be worse. Which is the case in Boulder in my opinion.
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  #8  
Old 10-07-2004, 06:19 PM
Tom Earp Tom Earp is offline
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Exclamation

Every Time that a death happens, the College becomes more involved. Why, because, they too can be involved in a Law Suit and they do not want that. So, what do they do?

They put more Rules and Regulations on Greeks.

The Problem is, there seems to be an inordinate amout of Alchohol Deaths lately.
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  #9  
Old 10-07-2004, 08:43 PM
James James is offline
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People die. Society is doing its best to minimize the Darwin factor, but people still die.

ITs a tribute to how few people actually do die this way that this stuff makes national headlines.

So why do we need sweeping new policies for extremely few deaths?

7,600 people die yearly from NSAIDs like aspirin.
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  #10  
Old 10-08-2004, 10:19 AM
33girl 33girl is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by DeltAlum
While schools themselves are being named in suits, how can they not take a part in the control of the groups involved?
You've got it backwards - it is the school's trying to take "control" that makes them liable to be named in a suit.

I mean, Wechsler was referencing drink specials at off-campus bars or outlets that sell to underagers. Why on earth, or how on earth, would the school do anything about that? It's a private establishment.

And with the Sam Spady case in particular, it's not been determined that she drank IN the fratenity house - just that she died there. If she had died in the bathroom of the science building, or in a dorm, would they close it?
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Old 10-08-2004, 10:46 AM
DeltAlum DeltAlum is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by 33girl
You've got it backwards - it is the school's trying to take "control" that makes them liable to be named in a suit.

And with the Sam Spady case in particular, it's not been determined that she drank IN the fratenity house - just that she died there. If she had died in the bathroom of the science building, or in a dorm, would they close it?
Heartily disagree. If they have rules they'll be taken to court for not enforcing them strongly enough -- if they don't have rules, they will have suits for not having rules. At least in the first case they have some control over their own destiny.

And it has been absolutely proven by the police in Ft. Collins that Sam Spady drank beer and then changed over to flavored vodka shots when she returned to the fraternity house.

ETA the following from the Rocky Mountain News is the end of the "time line" the local police investigation put together of her last day:

"Two hours later, Spady would make her final stop at Sigma Pi, a house where she had concluded drinking nights before by passing out, the police said.

Change in demeanor

Twenty-five people had gathered in the brick fraternity house near campus, and Spady switched back to beer.

But as the crowd dwindled to about 10 at 3:30 a.m., Spady began what would be her final descent. Taking swigs from one or two bottles of McCormick's vodka, the former Nebraska high school honor student and homecoming queen's demeanor changed. She became visibly drunk and slurred her speech, Deputy Coroner Beers said.

About an hour before sunrise, Spady could no longer stand. She couldn't make sense when she spoke.

Two men who didn't live in the fraternity house put Spady's arms around their necks and carried her to an unused bedroom converted into a lounge."
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Last edited by DeltAlum; 10-08-2004 at 10:55 AM.
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  #12  
Old 10-08-2004, 11:23 AM
Buff Buff is offline
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I'm an alum from Michigan State, a school that's seen its share of drinking related deaths. These were not all greek related, so I don't think that its fair for schools to automatically discredit these organizations. A better approach than slapping regulations on organizations, which will cause more resistance, is to build a partnership with them to find solutions to the problems. At MSU greeks work with the school, Department of Police and Public Safety, and the student body to educate underclassmen about alcohol, its effects, danger signs, etc. (the presentation is at least an hour, has shocking statistics, and some graphic videos of alcohol related auto accidents). Its not the schools place to provide this education, but students aren't getting it at home and we all know that young adults on their own for the first time are going to experiment with alcohol. Alcohol education is a program that's needed and if schools are willing to work with organizations on campus, instead of trying to police them, to get the message across, and it saves someone's life, then I guess it was time/money well spent.
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Old 10-08-2004, 11:34 AM
boz130 boz130 is offline
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Those of us who attended school during the era that's not terribly well-portrayed by "That '70's Show" also remember what many parents said if their little Freddy Fraternity or Suzie Sorority got nailed for underaged drinking:

"Oh, thank God they're not using DRUGS!!!!!!!!"

As an elder (oh, well, if the shoe fits...) GCer, I recognize that some of the things we say are thought to be "old"..."staid"..."out of touch" by the young buck alums. That's okay--many of us are parents and are used to being tuned out.

That's why I don't know how much influence we would have in going to our chapter meetings and pleading w/the undergrads to "think before you drink" (or some other tired phrase that's bandied about ad infinitum). We hope we can be an influence, but it's probably not gonna happen in this instance.

Okay, so who's in charge of leading by example and precept? That leaves our newer alums. In some instances I've encountered at various chapters, they're not guiding lights in this arena; to be fair, they're more likely to lead the charge to University Liquors and pick up a couple of kegs to bring back to the house for Homecoming.

On the other side of the coin, I'm glad it's not every chapter that has this problem. Most (98%+) new alums are responsible, level-headed and people to be proud of. Perhaps the long-in-the-tooth brigade can approach these alumni/ae and enlist their help in working on this problem.

Peace to those of you who've suffered losses--
BF
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Old 10-08-2004, 12:08 PM
33girl 33girl is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by DeltAlum
Two men who didn't live in the fraternity house put Spady's arms around their necks and carried her to an unused bedroom converted into a lounge."
Why the @#$% didn't they drive her to a hospital or call an ambulance?? Were they brothers or not? If they're not brothers, why the hell are they using a fraternity bedroom without the fraternity's permission? Where was her girlfriend who checked on her and went back to her dorm room (you didn't include that quote from the story in your post)?

One of Sam's own friends said on here, and I quote, "No matter what, the blame cannot be placed on the members of sigma pi or anyone else. " If one of her own friends is saying that, why isn't the school listening?

A friend of mine who was a KDR died at school the summer after I graduated. He was at a party at the Theta Chi house, given by independents who were living there may I add. He had one or two beers there, ingested several other substances at other places, and died when he and some KDR brothers drove out to the river and he fell off the trestle. His death got turned into an excuse for the university to impose Draconian rules on all students in general and Greeks in particular. Theta Chi was on probation for like 3 years, even though no brothers were even there at the time. I knew him and believe me, that was the LAST thing he would have wanted. His parents were equally upset that his death was used in this manner. That's exactly what these colleges are doing, using deaths of young people as "teachable moments," and it makes me absolutely sick.

Pardon my french, but I'm really tired of this bullshit - everyone needs to take responsibility for their own actions, and that includes the litigious parents who didn't teach their kids how to handle alcohol. Like valkyrie said, if your kids aren't mature enough to function at college 500 miles away, maybe they shouldn't be there.
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Last edited by 33girl; 10-08-2004 at 12:15 PM.
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Old 10-08-2004, 12:14 PM
Firehouse Firehouse is offline
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Is Weschler part of that ghastly PAR crowd? I noted the snide comment about "educational and re-motivational programs". The PAR program is draconian punishment delivered with sadistic prison guard glee and enthusiasm.
If you want to stop all automobile accidents, then raise the drinking age to 70 and lower the speed limit to 21. That's PAR's answer. Out of millions of college kids, three drink themselves to death in a fraternity house. Tragic for those children and their families and their friends, but not indicative of the "epidemic" that activists would have you fear. If a fraternity forces a kid to drink and he dies, I'm all for hanging them. But these sound like normal freshmen first-time-away-from-home hijinks that go terribly wrong.
Look at Colorado. If the charges against the football program are accurate, then they used prostitutes in recruiting. The school president wouldn't even begin to think about shutting down the athletic program. But if a fraternity brought in hookers for rush, there would be mass fainting in the administration building, and vacant fraternity houses stretching to the horizon.
There is and always has been a built-in conflict between the Greeks and the faculty/administration types. The academics suspect that the Greeks do not worship them the way they feel they should be adored. The adacemics feel that they are able to exert a stronger influence over the non-Greek student population. This is all true. By and large the Greeks are ambitious and aggressive and view college as a brief passage on their way to success in life. They use their fraternity contacts to make useful connections among their own kind. The faculty and administrators are viewed largely as people hired to teach them what they need to know to get the jobs they want. The faculty/administrators are much more impressed with their own standing than are the Greeks, who view them as somewhat isolated in their own ivory tower academic universe and not relevant to the Greeks' everyday life, or indeed relevant to much else.
No one thinks this out loud, but the subtext is there.
The faculty/administrators resent what they see as the dismissive attitude toward them on the part of the Greeks, and the Greeks resent interference by the fac/admins in what they consider to be none of their damn business.
Here's a small example. I attended a meeting of fraternity alumni and the IFC president. Probably 5-6 fraternities were represented and the alumni were all over 40. The issue at hand had to do with a minor rush problem involving all fraternities on our campus. In the course of conversation, someone mentioned that he was glad to see IFC allowing two previously-booted fraternities back on; one last spring and one this fall. The IFC president said thanks, and in fact the IFC wanted to continue to expand but it was upsetting the Greek Life staff. "Why - what do they care?" The IFC Pres replied that the Greek Life staff was upset because rapid expansion "was a lot more work for them". The table convulsed in laughter. The 40+ year old fraternity alumni view "Greek Life" as something a grad student might do to earn a few extra dollars, but not anything to be taken seriously and certainly not a legitimate career path in the real world. The Greek Life professionals are suspicious of alumni interference, and the alumni are contemptuous of people they view as lightweight irritations. University development officers know first hand the financial abilities and loyalties of Greek alumni, and their importance to the continued prosperity of the University. Greek Life people - deans and student affairs types and such - do not concern themselves at all with the consequences of their anti-fraternity decisions.
We as Greek organizations are obliged to promote good behavior - to insist on it in fact - and to adhere to the legitmate rules of the institution. But we are not obliged to endure group punishments, bullying and unreasonable interference in our affairs, including who and how we recruit members. In fact, the arrogance of university administrators grew to such egregious proportions in the 1980s and 1990s that Congress passed the Freedom of Association Act in 1997 specifically to address these complaints.
Drinking among students should not be a greater problem now than it has ever been. If it is, then we should find out why. My guess is that the PAR solution - extreme punishments - has forced drinking underground where it's more dangerous. I like the solution offered by one poster where the University focuses on taking care of the kids without sending campus police to interrogate everyone involved.

Last edited by Firehouse; 10-08-2004 at 01:01 PM.
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