Alcohol a Factor in Several College Freshmen Deaths This Semester

At least eight U.S. college freshmen have died so far this semester, many of them in alcohol-related incidents, according to Times Higher Education. Colleges are encouraging freshmen and their parents to talk about alcohol and drugs even before they arrive on campus.

A freshman at Texas Tech University died of alcohol poisoning in late August. An international student at Michigan State University died after a night of drinking during the school’s move-in weekend. A Towson University student in Maryland died after falling into a glass door during a party, the article notes.

“It’s a huge transition and all the support systems are different,” said Pete Goldsmith, Dean of Students at Indiana University at Bloomington. “For students who have lived in very structured situations and environments, going to a college campus when very suddenly they have this new kind of freedom and new choices to make, it can be pretty overwhelming.”

Because in many cases only a few hours of orientation are devoted to drinking and drug use at most schools, they are trying to reach incoming students and their parents before they arrive. “We urge parents to have conversations with students about drug and alcohol use,” Goldsmith said. “We encourage parents to think through what their own expectations are for this first year. Parents and students are so focused on getting into college, there’s not always a lot of attention given to what’s going to happen once they’re actually there.”

Students who arrive at school may fall under the spell of “the college effect,” says Amy Murphy, Dean of Students at Texas Tech University. Even if they arrive at school with healthy attitudes and behaviors, they are exposed to unhealthy influences once on campus. These influences make them more likely to participate in drugs and drinking, she said.

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    October 1, 2014 at 10:36 AM

    I am glad the school has an orientation about alcohol however it is not the schools job to teach the children about alcohol. These kids are adults when they go off to school and nothing that the school can do can make a huge impact. It has to start at a young age and taught and discussed through the years.

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    Jose G. Carreon

    September 24, 2014 at 4:38 PM

    Parents should sit down and talk to their perspective college students and tell them a simplified version of how the brain decides if it is going to do something or not do something as well as what influences a persons ability to make that decision.

    The mid-brain is where you emotions reside. This part of the brain always says Go, Go, Go for it. Always. Fortunately for us we have means to control this desire if it is contrary to your values, principles, beliefs, reasoning and judgment to name a few. This happens in the frontal cortex of your brain.

    So the mid-brain always says “lets go for it” but your Frontal Cortex says “no that is not a good idea, “it is not who I am”, it is not what I do and you do not do it.

    This system works well if you have good reasoning abilities. Three external things definitely influence you to go against who you are. The people you hang around with, the places you go and any mind altering drugs you take.

    Parents should definitely tell their young adults that they should be careful where they go and who they hang out with. But they should make clear that if they drink to much alcohol. which is a sedative, it will sedate the frontal cortex. With the frontal cortex sedated, you will say and do things that you do not say and do, like drinking more than you should. If you drink more than you should, you lose the ability to reason, and you can end up overdosing on alcohol.

    The heavy drinking culture in college is dangers but it is more so for the freshman who is coming into a different unfamiliar environment. Anything that can be done to prepare him for this experience should be taken seriously.

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