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Drinking in the red: Here’s how UO is coping with the week one drinking wave

On Wednesday, Sept. 23 a party on University Street was dispersed by the Eugene Police Department. One University of Oregon student was arrested and three others were cited. Three students received a Minor in Possession.

The Friday before school starts marks the beginning of the Eugene Police Department (EPD) party patrols and increased lookout for alcohol and drug violations in the West and South Univeristy areas, according to a press release from the EPD.

This is the EPD’s response to the phenomenon known across campuses nationwide as the Red Zone. The Red Zone is a period of six to eight weeks at the start of the school year where there is an increased amount alcohol and sexual violations among students.

During this time, many students drink to excess, but hesitate to call for help if things get out of hand. What many don’t know is that in 2014, a new law known as Medical Amnesty was put into State Legislation to address this fear, Jenn Summers, the Director of Substance Abuse and Student Success at UO (SASS) explained. If you, or another individual seek medical attention for an alcohol related incident and are under the legal drinking age, you will not be charged for a Minor in Possession but are not exempt from any other laws. Summers hopes that the law will encourage more students to call 9-1-1 when they need to.

“If you even contemplate once, if it even enters your brain, do it,” Summers said.

Although the student conduct code at UO hasn’t been updated with procedure for the law, UOPD and school staff abide by Medical Amnesty. The law was only passed over a year and a half ago and is only in effect in seventeen states. The ASUO is currently attempting to change this and make it officially a part of school regulation, Helena Schlegel, ASUO President said.

The 2014 Clery Report, an annual report on security and safety compiled by the University of Oregon under the Clery Act, showed that In 2013, one third of liquor and drug violations recorded were reported during the Red Zone in the months of October and November, Kelly McIver, Communications Director and Public Information Officer for the University of Oregon Police Department said. Half of 2013’s recorded sex offenses also occurred during that same time frame.

The reasons for the crime increase in the students vary. Summers said these reasons include: students being in a new environment, being away from home for the first time and experimenting with drugs and alcohol.

The EPD put forward a substantial amount of effort to educate students on the dangers of binge drinking and prevent sexual assault, said Summers and Kerry Frazee, the Director of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Education at UO (SAPE).

“A lot of students have an expectation of what college is like and Jenn, myself, and many more in the division of student life are trying to combat that,” Frazee said.

Many students don’t seek help in cases of alcohol poisoning for either themselves or for others, out of fear of being written up for a minor in possession (MIP), said Summers.

In order to avoid drunk driving, for those who choose to drink during the Red Zone or anytime while around campus, Rideshare is an alternative that will take students home who are intoxicated, explained Kevin Dobyns, the Director of Finance for Safe Ride. This UO program is not however an alternative for a medical transport and will refer all those who seek medical attention to the University of Oregon Police Department (UOPD).

The UO has instituted many programs and policies in order to decrease alcohol related violations on campus. One program is the website, which all incoming freshman and transfer students are required to participate in. The purpose of the site is to educate students about the pros and cons of alcohol usage and how to help those who may be suffering from alcohol poisoning, explained Summers. The program is split into two parts. The first section takes place before school begins and the second is completed several weeks after the start of the term. This allows SASS to collect vast amounts of data from students.

The data collected from the has indicated a decrease of high risk drinkers on campus from 36 percent of first year students to 29 percent in 2014. Summers says that the site has played a major role in this decrease.

SAPE has a crisis intervention hotline which students can call for support and guidance for victims of sexual assault. 541-346-SAFE will get you in touch with counselors who can send a person to meet with survivors any time of the day within twenty minutes, something which Frazee says is rare but necessary for a university to have.

It doesn’t cost anything for a medical professional to come and examine you and they will determine on site whether or not you need to seek further medical attention at a hospital.

The UO also puts on an event where volunteers go door-to-door in the area around campus to welcome students to the community to discuss school policy and regulations. The event, known as UO Community Welcome, will take place Tuesday, Sept. 29, explained Sheryl Eyster the Associate Dean of Students in a press release.

“You want to make sure you’re meeting students where they’re at, on campus and in the surrounding area,” said Summers when referring to the UO Community Welcome.

The Red Zone is also a result of new students who are unaware of school policy. Students from other states or countries may not know school or state policies. This is why UO and the Dean of Students Office have programs in place relating to the Red Zone. One such program from SAPE aims to build off of what students learn during IntroDUCKtion and the freshman sexual assault education site Haven.

Get Explicit 101 is a new program to help reduce sexual violence during the Red Zone and on campus. The program holds a total of 80 workshops for the incoming freshman living in the residence halls which is required for them. Residence Hall Advisors will inform them which session they are to attend, Frazee said. The program will discuss healthy sexuality, boundaries, consent and the role of power and privilege in sexual violence.

“The most important thing is that we are wanting to make a safe and healthy environment and we want students to have a role in building the campus community,” Frazee said about the aims of the program.

For those incoming students this fall term during the Red Zone, Summers has some words of advice.

“Be safe. Know your rights and responsibilities, know the laws and always look out for your friend.”

Follow Eric Schucht on Twitter @EricSchucht

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Eric Schucht

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