College Publishes Annual Data on Alcohol-Related Incidents

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The data are informing strategies to reduce harm, says Wellness Director Caitlin Barthelmes.

Campus aerial
(Photo by Eli Burakian ’00) 

As it has for the past several years, Dartmouth has released data on the number of alcohol-related incidents involving undergraduates on campus.

The data, available on the Student Wellness Center website, go back to 2011. They track alcohol-related medical encounters with the Dartmouth College Health Service and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center; medical encounters in which students’ blood-alcohol concentration approached lethal limits; incidents involving Safety and Security and Residential Education; and “Good Samaritan” calls to Safety and Security—that is, calls in which students request help for someone during an alcohol-related incident without risking College disciplinary action.

“These numbers are essential to our understanding of how student behavior around alcohol is changing over time,” says Caitlin Barthelmes, director of the Student Wellness Center. “The data are helping us see trends that are informing the initiatives and strategies we have in place to reduce harm.”

The newest data, from July 2017-June 2018, show:

  • Overall alcohol-related incidents involving safety and security officers or residential life staff increased from 388 in the 2016-17 academic year to 437 in 2017-18.
  • Good Samaritan calls dropped to 117 from last year’s high of 131.
  • The number of medical encounters in which a student was found to have a high blood-alcohol level (defined as greater than 0.25, which is more than three times new Hampshire’s .08 legal limit) rose slightly, from 30 to 37.
  • The number of medical encounters for alcohol intoxication in which a student received care at the College health service or at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center decreased slightly, from 185 to 183.

Dartmouth has several programs intended to reduce alcohol abuse and other high-risk behavior. For example, in March 2015, the College banned hard alcohol for undergraduates as part of Moving Dartmouth Forward, an initiative aimed at improving student safety and well-being.

Other initiatives to reduce harms related to drinking include the health service’s alcohol screening; a focus on prevention through the creation of the Student Wellness Center in Robinson Hall; use of the Brief Alcohol Screening for College Students (BASICS) program to help students clarify their values about drinking; and several harm-reduction programs for students, such as the Dartmouth Bystander Initiative, which trains students to intervene when they witness others in high-risk situations.

Hannah Silverstein