With drug and alcohol violations increasing nationally, the University has followed suit with over twice the national average in reported drug violations.

According to numbers released for the year 2001 by the Chronicle of Higher Education, the University’s alcohol violations increased by three percent while drug violations have escalated by 14 percent.

“(Drugs don’t) seem as popular as alcohol, so it’s a surprise,” LSA freshman Megan Melcher said.

On the other hand, LSA freshman Lauren Larson said, “I see that there’s a lot more drug use, it’s more fashionable now.”

Since the size of residential hall populations are one of the major contributing factors to the high reporting of drug and alcohol violations, incoming students remain the foci of many University substance abuse prevention programs.

Beginning with summer orientation, this year’s new students will receive written information and watch a performance by student theatre group Res Rep focusing on the dangers of substance abuse and what to do in an emergency, said Ann Hower, the director of the Office of New Student Programming.

During the school year Marsha Benz, the Alcohol and Other Drug Education coordinator, runs programming for substance abuse education.

But “there’s no mandatory alcohol education for students at U of M unless they’re busted,” Benz said.

The increase in drug and alcohol use can sometimes be predicted from surveys of graduating high school students, said Patrice Flax, coordinator of the Alcohol and Other Drugs Campus Initiatives.

“My feeling is a lot of the behavior comes from high school,” Flax added.

But Larson said, “A normal expectation is that when you enter college you will do drugs and you will do alcohol, regardless of whether or not you’ve done them before.”

But large residential halls are not the only reason for the increased number of reported violations.

“The major football stadium here makes a big difference. About one third of the alcohol violations are based on six to seven home football Saturdays,” said Diane Brown, spokeswoman for the Department of Public Safety.

“(This) third is just related to usually about three or four hours before, through the football game, and about an hour after the game.”

Engaging in heavy alcohol consumption may result in both physical and monetary damage for students.

Drew Chadwick, coordinator for Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution, estimates that during the academic school year, there are anywhere between 40 and 60 drug or alcohol related transports of University students from residential halls to the hospital.

“Alcohol was the single most frequent cause for going to the emergency room for students during a study done in 1999,” said Dr. Robert Winfield, director of University Health Service.

Without health insurance, a student could end up with numerous fees to pay, which often add up to a large sum.

“The cost can vary from as little as a couple hundred dollars to several thousand dollars,” Winfield added.

This is in addition to the cost of the ambulance ride, which according to Huron Valley Ambulance, can cost up to $500 to $600 depending on medications and treatment needed.

Hower said so far, no students have been transported to the hospital during Orientation.

“The basic policy, though, is that if a student engages in underage drinking they will be sent home and will have to leave the program,” Hower added.

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