The BU student celebrated his 21st birthday, the legal drinking age in Massachusetts, last Saturday. By early Sunday morning, he was on his way to the hospital for acute intoxication, one of 11 University students comprising a puzzling spike in alcohol-fueled hospital runs in the last week.
The problem has the BU Police Department beefing up alcohol-control efforts, starting this weekend “and continuing until further notice,” says BUPD Captain Robert Molloy.
“We are going to begin plainclothes enforcement,” stationing officers around and near campus, Molloy says. Normally, a bolstered police presence, a mainstay of fall semester, resumes after spring break. But last weekend’s numbers are troubling enough (alcohol transports are up 7 percent over the fall semester, Molloy reports) that the BUPD decided to begin patrols now.
Of the 11 transports, 9 were in the early hours of Saturday and Sunday, according to Molloy, who says police aren’t entirely sure why so many were so acutely drunk. “One of the students indicated they attended a frat party in Allston,” he notes, but that student didn’t identify the fraternity.
There were 3 freshmen among the 11, and 6 of the 11 were 21 or older, says Al Brust, assistant director of Judicial Affairs, who hopes the unusual number of cases was “an anomaly.”
BU leaders credit the University’s alcohol enforcement protocol—launched three years ago and modeled on a successful plan at the University of California—with decreasing the number of alcohol-related incidents and hospital visits. It relies on extra police patrols in party neighborhoods, breaking up raucous parties, arresting or citing offenders, and publication of enforcement stats on BU Today during the fall semester.
BU’s alcohol enforcement typically involves collaboration among the BU, Boston, and Brookline police, and Molloy says the University will notify the other police forces of the current situation. Boston Police meanwhile have adopted a policy of arrest as the preferred response for alcohol violations near campus.