Drinking may affect crime levels
Though St. Patrick’s Day places a value on drinks, alcohol may lead to an increased level of crime
March 18, 2011, 5:42 am · Updated March 18, 2011, 12:00 am·
Though St. Patrick’s Day meant green costumes and Irish music for many students, the holiday’s focus on booze also brought the potential for more crime.
Assaults, rape and accidental injury become more likely when under the influence of binge drinking, according to numerous sociology studies conducted over the past two decades.
Students at The Blarney Stone, for example, reported one incident of indecent exposure yesterday afternoon.
A drunken woman took her top and bra off after losing a game of beer pong, then “just ran naked through Sansom,” said Zalima Barizani, who was helping bounce at the time.
“Then, she turned back around and made the guys take their pants off,” Barizani continued. “They stood outside for like 20 minutes.”
Even so, St. Patrick’s Day celebrations over the past few weeks — including the Erin Express, a bar crawl event across the city that took people to campus bars such as Cavanaugh’s and Blarney Stone — saw no increase in hard crime, according to Division of Public Safety Vice President Maureen Rush.
“All went well considering the volume of people and the flowing of alcohol,” she said.
“It’s a good time. It’s a social event,” added Captain Joe Fischer, who worked during the Erin Express events.
St. Patrick’s Day celebrations such as the Erin Express have experienced worse alcohol-related crime in the past. “It runs like clockwork now, but there were a lot of arrests and fights [in the nineties],” Rush said.
“It was ugly. It was horrible,” she added.
Rush credited the improvement to the partnership between Penn Police, the local campus bars and the Philadelphia police departments.
Despite the improvement, the sheer number of students drinking on St. Patrick’s Day is a reminder of the dangers of alcohol.
“I think it’s the number-one public health problem for college students,” said George Dowdall, a Sociology professor at St. Joseph’s University.
“Students who are frequent binge drinkers were much more likely to have a whole range of alcohol-related problems that affected them and others in their environment.”
Binge drinking qualifies as four drinks in a row for women and five drinks in a row for men, according to a study by Dowdall and other researchers published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Academic and student perspectives, however, do not necessarily align on those numbers.
“I guess if five shots is the definition, then I’m a chronic alcoholic,” said a College of Arts and Sciences freshman who wished to remain anonymous due to the legal implications. “But I don’t think five shots is the definition.”
The student said he typically drinks five to six beers as a pre-game, with a total of about 15 drinks throughout the night.
After five drinks, the freshman said he feels tipsy, but still “pretty in control.”
Dowdall believes that alcohol presents a “fascinating public issue” because it creates effects that people don’t always recognize.
Over 400,000 students reported having unprotected sex under the influence of binge drinking, and over 1,800 students die from alcohol-related causes, according to a study by Ralph Hingson for the National Alcohol Institute.
Drinking also increased risk for injury, assaults,and sexual assaults, he found.
One in every 20 women experienced non-consensual sex in a school year — and more than 70 percent of those women were raped because they were too drunk or drugged to give consent, Dowdall said, citing another study on thousands of college women.
The research “provides pretty chilling estimates,” he added.