The beginning of every academic year, specifically residence-hall move-in weekend, commonly results in an uptick in alcohol-related-illness incidents for students returning to campus. Although the campus has taken appropriate steps to attempt to curb this trend, the responsibility ultimately falls on students to take care of themselves and each other.
In 2012, The Daily Californian wrote that UCPD responded to 12 alcohol-related incidents requiring transportation to the hospital within the first two weeks after move-in. Last year, UCPD responded to eight cases of alcohol-related-illness incidents in one night during move-in weekend. This year, law enforcement officials and emergency personnel have prepared themselves in advance to respond to what they estimate to be a potentially high number of alcohol-related illness incidents over the next few weekends. Between Saturday night and Monday morning, UCPD responded to four of these incidents, less than half of of what it did last year. While the initial data seems promising, the high numbers of these incidents generally continues through Labor Day weekend.
It is a good sign that UCPD recognizes this problematic trend. The campus community, however, needs to be aware of the strain it puts on the city of Berkeley. The Berkeley Fire Department allocated an additional ambulance last weekend in preparation for an anticipated spike in alcohol-related incidents. Last year, the city was forced to call on outside emergency services, and fire department personnel had to transport patients to a secondary hospital because of the limited number of beds in the local hospital.Back-to-school parties should not put such a large strain on Berkeley’s resources.
The campus has retooled Welcome week to be a more interactive and extensive program for incoming freshmen, which we believe will help mitigate a dangerous move-in weekend drinking culture. We won’t be able to judge the effectiveness of this for many years, but we commend the campus’ efforts. It is an easy step to tell the administration to do more, but collective campus efforts are only one part of the solution.
The burden now falls on us. Students need to take care of themselves and fellow students — it’s a message well worn but necessary. If someone looks in need of medical assistance, do not hesitate to call 911. If you are under 21, California law grants limited amnesty to intoxicated minors who call for medical assistance for themselves or others.
Coming to college means newly gaining a lot of independence, and it is up to us to use our best judgment. The beginning of the semester is an exciting time: Parties are abundant, and everyone is eager to make new friends and bond with floormates and classmates. As the semester continues, however, we must recognize that we are ultimately the ones who bear the responsibility for ourselves and others.