By Jordan Meyers
Three returning students were hospitalized for alcohol abuse before the start of classes last week, according to Dean of Students Travis Greene.
Greene said that no first-year students were hospitalized, even though the incidents all happened throughout New Student Orientation (NSO) week.
In prior years, pre-fall semester alcohol-related hospitalizations have not been entirely uncommon. Last year there were two incidents during NSO, and 17 throughout the fall semester, according to Greene.
“I think NSO is a time when people push their boundaries,” said Director of Residence Life and Orientation Andrea Conner. “And we did have some first-years who got tended to by RLCs [this year]… but we never complain about being called to check on people. We would always much rather have a sober person there to be safe.”
Conner added that, in comparison to other colleges of Grinnell’s size and academic rigor, the number of hospitalizations is not outstanding, and there are many ways in which the College tries to educate its students about the effects of drugs and alcohol.
Of the more than 450 new students this year, only 36 have yet to complete the online alcohol education course, which was updated last year and is still being evaluated by student feedback.
“The course is meant to give people an approximation of how much a drink is, and how their bodies process alcohol,” Conner said, adding that the course is only one of many educational layers at Grinnell.
According to Conner, the majority of the negative feedback has been about the three-hour duration of the course. However, she added that returning students have been generally supportive of the program.
“At least people know, hey, three shots means I’m somewhere near this drunk, and they know what’s happening to their bodies,” said Student Advisor Isaac Chadri ’15, who added that, despite being mostly new students, his residents in Norris have been able to take care of themselves.
Besides the alcohol education course, NSO featured two separate nighttime programs: one about sex and another about self-governance. Both events layered in conversations about consent, drugs and alcohol. In line with the College’s focus on self-governance, all of the education programs are geared towards affirming students to make their own decisions about what they want to do, while simultaneously instilling them with a commitment to others’ safety.
“Any time a student goes to a hospital, on the one hand we’re grateful that students reached out and got help, but on the other hand, it’s an instance where people could have been intervening [earlier]… so that’s going to be our renewed focus this year,” Greene said.