Queen's University — Since 1873
18th November 2011

Res citations increase

Administration says residence staff was more diligent

Students admitted to the Campus Observation Room must be able to walk alone or with little help from others as well as form semi-coherent answers to basic questions.
Students admitted to the Campus Observation Room must be able to walk alone or with little help from others as well as form semi-coherent answers to basic questions. (Corey Lablans)

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Residence officials gave out 63 citations for alcohol use in Frosh Week this year, compared to the 55 handed out during Frosh Week 2010.

According to statistics rendered by a Freedom of Information request, “Excessive Consumption of Alcohol” citations dropped from 24 offences during last year’s Frosh Week to 13 this year.

Residence officials split last year’s “Alcohol in Residence” citation category into “Open Alcohol in Residence” and “Underage Alcohol Use and Beer Bottles.”

Nine citations for “Underage Alcohol Use” were given out and one offence for “Alcohol Purchase” or “Provision for Underage Residents” was issued. Both offence categories aren’t distinguished in the 2010 statistics.

Queen’s implemented a new policy for this year, banning alcohol from residence during Frosh Week, even if residents are of legal age.

“It’s difficult to draw any conclusions after only one year of implementation of the Alcohol-Free Residence policy during Orientation week, particularly as there are so many external factors potentially at play in any given year and among any given 1st year student residence cohort,” Arig Girgrah, Assistant Dean of Student Affairs, told the via email.

“We do read the increase in documented offences related to alcohol use as a potential reflection of the greater diligence on the part of Residence Life staff to identify and dispose of alcohol during Orientation Week this year, as per the new policy.”

Girgrah cited increased attendance at Frosh Week events as a possible indicator of the Frosh Week alcohol ban’s effects. No plans to continue the ban have been announced.

conclusions after only one year of implementation of the Alcohol-Free Residence policy,” Arig Girgrah, assistant dean of student affairs, told the Journal via email.

“We do read the increase in documented offences related to alcohol use as a potential reflection of the greater diligence on the part of Residence Life staff to identify and dispose of alcohol during Orientation Week this year, as per the new policy.”

Girgrah cited increased attendance at Frosh Week events as a possible indicator of the Frosh Week alcohol ban’s effects. No plans to continue the ban have been announced.

There are three options in Kingston for students who overdo it when they drink.

Statistics released to the Journal yesterday show a rise in alcohol offences in residence 
during  Frosh Week this year.
Statistics released to the Journal yesterday show a rise in alcohol offences in residence during Frosh Week this year. (Corey Lablans)

Over 200 people visited Kingston General Hospital’s (KGH) emergency room last year for alcohol-related issues. Of them, 26 were under 19 years of age.

Cathy Edwards, public health nurse and co-ordinator of the Safe and Sober Community Alliance, said alcohol-related visits to the emergency room spike in September, as part of what she calls Homecoming syndrome.

Before its cancellation, Homecoming weekend cost the KGH emergency room $25,000 in resources.

In 2008, the Journal reported that Homecoming weekend brought 56 people with severe intoxication and other injuries to the emergency room at KGH.

Other injuries included sexual assault, severe facial and dental injuries and physical assaults.

Though Edwards couldn’t give specific numbers, she said late September still sees spikes in alcohol-related ER visits, despite the Homecoming hiatus.

The hospital’s emergency room isn’t the only place students can go after binge drinking.

If they’re not in need of medical attention, Kingston Police round up publicly intoxicated people for Hotel Dieu’s Detox Centre on Brock Street.

The centre’s director, Lisa Dwyer said if an intoxicated person isn’t taken to jail, they’re brought to the Detox Centre to wait out the alcohol’s effects.

“The original idea was a detox centre was established to take people away from jail and put them in a safe place,” she said. “We’ve seen people as young as 14 and old as 98.”

People admitted to the Detox Centre must be ambulatory and coherent — able to walk alone or with little help and form responses to basic questions.

Dwyer, who also runs the Campus Observation Room (COR) said grunts will satisfy the coherency requirement.

She said there are some differences in the patients each facility sees.

“We don’t see the same level of intoxication at the Detox Centre that they see [at the COR],” she said. “Our folks are a little better at drinking, apparently.”

The Detox Centre accepts people on substances other than alcohol as well. A typical stay in the Centre is three to five days, Dwyer said, adding that people on opiate-based drugs will tend to stay longer.

Some people live in the 22-bed facility for long-term detox.

People at the COR, located in the basement of Victoria Hall, aren’t able to stay as long.

The COR opened in 1990 as a non-medical detox centre. It’s run by Health Counselling and Disability Services (HCDS) and has room for 12 students on an average night.

According to Kate Humphrys, co-ordinator of Health Education and Health Promotion at HCDS, most people admitted to the COR will spend the night being monitored instead of taking up space in KGH’s emergency room.

“On certain weekends we open a second room with 24 beds in total,” Humphrys said, adding that events like Halloween will call for two rooms.

The facility is available to current students. Humphrys said the COR’s busiest time is Frosh Week and the first few months of the school year.

The COR doesn’t operate for the full winter term because the demand isn’t there, she said.

Certain occasions will open COR doors, though. The first weekend of second semester and St. Patrick’s Day keep them busy, though Humphrys couldn’t disclose exact numbers.

There’s no wait to be admitted at the COR, Humphrys said.

In September, the COR is open from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. In October, it’s open from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. and for the rest of the semester, its hours are 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.

The COR takes calls from students concerned about a friend.

“We’ll get a phone call saying the person has passed out and the COR tells [the caller] to call Campus Security or call 9-1-1 themselves,” she said. “A common scenario is students pass out somewhere and the ambulance is just called there.”

If students can’t walk or form any type of response to basic questions, they are taken to KGH, Humphrys said.

If they’re too intoxicated to walk, the COR will call for an ambulance, she said.

The COR calls Queen’s First Aid to give basic medical attention when necessary, but is quick to call the hospital if things get serious.

The injured student will be given a taxi coupon by COR staff or transported by ambulance, Humphrys said.

“We have people that come with suspected head injuries,” she said. “If there are any signs and symptoms, we err on the side of caution.

“We’re a non-medical detox centre. We’re very clear about that,” she said.

The COR also has one trained staff member from Hotel Dieu Hospital per 12 beds; they add another if the second room opens up for more people.

One to four student volunteers work in the COR. Humphrys said they won’t accept people on substances other than alcohol.

COR-trained volunteers check the breathing, temperature and the colour of patients’ skin every 20 minutes. Detox staff from Hotel Dieu supervise the student volunteers.

“It’s a more economical way than sending kids to the emergency room,” she said.

A student’s personal information isn’t of concern to COR staff, Humphreys said, even if they’re found drinking underage.

“We don’t condone underage drinking … but we want students to watch out for their friends,” she said. “We keep someone out of the hospital that didn’t need to be there,” she said.

Most students are taken to the COR without putting up a fight.

“It’s not mandatory for them to stay overnight … but people are usually excited at the prospect of lying down,” she said. “When people have been drinking they’re not always the most reliable … but if someone is saying, ‘We don’t want to stay here,’ they’re not going to have to.”

The COR provides large buckets next to beds for vomit, and water is provided upon request.

Students get a wake-up call at 6:30 a.m.

“They’re assessed and fill out discharge forms before they go home,” she said.

Humphrys said the COR challenges attitudes about the University’s role in student safety.

“We want students to use the services, but we don’t want students to be drinking enough that they need to,” she said. “We don’t promote alcohol abstinence … we’re realistic.”

This year, the number of students seen by the COR hasn’t exceeded its capacity, she said. But if it did, students can refer to KGH or Hotel Dieu for help.

“Every student that needs help would get it at some point in Kingston,” she said.

— With files from Jake Edmiston

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