NSO alcohol-related hospitalizations up, but overall crime down


Overall crime dropped 34 percent, alcohol-related hospital transports up 76 percent




This year’s crime statistics for New Student Orientation brought both good and bad news.

While overall crime was down this year, the number of students who were transported to the hospital due to alcohol was up 76 percent.

There were 30 alcohol-related hospital transports during the period between Aug. 25 and Sept. 3, up from 17 last year between Aug. 27 and Sept. 5, 2011. According to the Division of Public Safety, the hospitalized students were predominantly freshmen.

In addition, 53 percent of this year’s hospital transports were female, up from last year’s 24 percent.

During orientation, DPS organized two 90-minute sessions for incoming students, where among other tips, it advised students to stay safe when drinking alcohol.

“We were a little depressed that people were still ill enough to go to the hospital,” Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush said.

Rush was pleased, however, to see a 34 percent drop in overall crime, backed by a 28 percent decrease in property crime.

But not all crime numbers went down.

Theft from buildings was up this year from four to 11, a 175-percent increase. This was due to a couple that posed as Penn parents and slipped into a Houston Hall office and stole items, according to Rush.

She said DPS is “hot on the trail” of the thieves.

However, the overall decrease led Rush to deem it “a good move in” for students this year.

For next year, she hopes people will think more carefully about how they handle alcohol.

As alcohol abuse can often lead to sexual crimes, DPS wants students to be very wary about the issue of sexual consent.

“Alcohol is not a defense to not getting consent,” Rush said.

Rush noted the overall message they wanted to convey during orientation was that if students wanted to party, they should party safely.

“They did not party safely,” she added.

One College sophomore, who wishes to remain anonymous because he is underage, said he went out almost every night of NSO. “It was unreal. Definitely a lot of underage drinking that I will admit I was a part of. Things got pretty out of hand at times,” he said.

Rush added that fortunately, help was available to students who needed it.

Associate Director of Alcohol and Other Drug Program Initiatives Noelle Melartin said that Penn’s Medical Amnesty Policy has encouraged students to seek help. The policy protects students from getting in trouble for alcohol or other drug use when they call for help for an intoxicated person.

“When an individual’s health is at risk, from intoxication or otherwise, it is very important that the student receive medical attention. When students are transported to the hospital, it is a sign that their friends recognize this and know how to respond in the event that someone needs help,” Melartin said in an email.

Rush said DPS’s primary goal of ensuring that students got help when needed was successful.

“They were lucky.”

Staff writer Caroline Meuser contributed reporting.

The article was revised to specify the period of time incidents were recorded in 2011.

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