Frosh Week alcohol use in review

Kingston Police, University, KGH document infractions

The Police deployed eight officers to the Queen’s area on Sept. 8, twice the number deployed on a typical night.
The Police deployed eight officers to the Queen’s area on Sept. 8, twice the number deployed on a typical night.

For the first time, Kingston Police have started collecting statistics regarding student-related incidents during Frosh Week.

The information will be gathered in order to determine patterns in student-related occurrences during the school year, said Kingston Police Media Relations Officer Steven Koopman.

This is the second year where students, even those 19 or older, were prohibited from drinking in residence buildings during Frosh Week.

In anticipation of the week, local police doubled-up on officers on patrol near Queen’s, especially in the student housing areas around the University, Koopman said.

“We purposely have an increased presence on the streets and predominantly in the Queen’s area,” he said. “Obviously it’s a big concern when students come back and we had to double up on officers for that night.”

On Sept. 8, the last day of this year’s Frosh Week, Kingston Police issued 27 drinking violation tickets to students in the Queen’s area. Eight officers were deployed to the area on Saturday night, twice as many normally designated to the area.

The University itself started collecting data regarding alcohol-related incidents in 2002 through the Queen’s Alcohol Working Group. The 2011 Frosh Week ban was implemented following a coroner’s investigation of the death of two students, which lead to a review of campus alcohol policies. University officials at the time said the ban wasn’t a result of the alcohol review.

After University administrators reviewed the effects of the ban last year, the decision was made in February to extend the ban indefinitely.

The 2011 decision was part of a growing trend toward addressing alcohol issues at universities; in August, Nova Scotia’s Acadia University announced that they, too, would be banning alcohol from residence during orientation week following the 2011 alcohol-related death of a 19-year-old student during Frosh Week. 

Arig Girgrah, assistant dean of Student Affairs, said since 2010, documented incidents of underage drinking in residence during Frosh Week have increased by 84 per cent, which she attributes to the policy’s expectation of increased diligence on the part of dons.

She also noted that there has been a 13 per cent drop in reported cases of students possessing or consuming large amounts of alcohol in residence and a 75 per cent reduction in documented cases of dons having to talk to residents about issues such as alcohol overconsumption.

According to Girgrah, information was gathered and assessed over a 10—year period prior to implementing the policy in residence. 

“Proper rigorous assessment and research requires longitudinal studies and long-term data collection and analysis and we’re committed to that,” she said.

According to an optional survey emailed to first-years last year, 59 per cent of students felt the new drinking policy reduced the pressure to drink in residence, with 64 per cent saying it helped them make more safe and responsible choices.

There was a 43 per cent response rate, with prize incentives for participation.

“Students are getting the message that alcohol shouldn’t be the most important part of Orientation,” Girgrah said.

AMS Vice-President of University Affairs Mira Dineen said the AMS hasn’t taken a stance on the policy this year.

“We’re waiting for further information about how the week went this year before drawing further conclusions,” Dineen, ArtSci ’11 said.

cor facts

This year, the Campus Observation Room (COR) saw 36 students admitted during Frosh Week, with 41 students total accessing services, including telephone consultation services.

The COR is a harm-reduction program that monitors and assesses intoxicated students located in Victoria Hall, and is operated by Queen’s Health, Counselling and Disability Services (HCDS).

“It’s going to take time to see any patterns and changes,” HCDS Health Promotion Coordinator Kate Humphrys said.

She added that the majority of students who come in to the COR are first-year students living in residence, while those that call the COR seeking advice tend to be students who live off-campus.

During Frosh Week 2011, 46 students were admitted, with a total of 56 total students seeking COR services. In 2010, prior to the ban, the COR admitted 32 students, with 40 students total accessing services.

“We think it’s important for people who need the services use it,” she said. “We’re not in the business to draw conclusions.”

In total, the COR treated 173 students in the 2009-10 academic year, with 280 students treated in 2010-11, and 234 students in 2011-12.

The number of students treated for alcohol poisoning and alcohol-related injuries at Kingston General Hospital (KGH) has also seen a decrease, according to hospital representatives.

Last week, a total of ten students were treated, including one 17-year-old, three 19-year-olds, two 20-year-olds and one 22-year-old.

In 2010, 20 students were admitted to KGH during Frosh Week. The same amount were treated during the same time in 2011, with ages ranging from 17-years-old to 26-years-old.

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