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A Message about Drinking Safety from President Sullivan

November 14, 2012

Dear Fourth-Year Students:

This Thursday, we will host our final home football game against the University of North Carolina. This is an occasion to celebrate, but also an occasion to consider safety - your own, and that of your classmates.

In the past, some students have used the occasion of the final home football game as an excuse to drink to excess. A handful of students attempt to consume an entire fifth of alcohol on game day. This is a very dangerous decision. A fifth of 80-proof liquor (17 drinks) can kill you. Seventeen drinks spaced evenly over six hours can result in a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.32 for a 160-pound man and 0.42 for a 130-pound woman. Most people lose consciousness and other bodily functions start to shut down at a BAC of more than 0.30, and a BAC of 0.40 or more is generally lethal.

Several years ago, Leslie Baltz, a fourth-year student, died on the day of the last home football game after drinking heavily. Although her friends put her in bed to "sleep it off" while they attended the game, Ms. Baltz ended up fatally injuring herself when she fell down a flight of stairs. Her death remains a vivid reminder of the danger of excessive consumption.

Your commitment to student self-governance includes taking responsibility for yourself and for members of your student community. If a friend's behavior puts him or her (or others) at risk, speak up and show your concern. Encourage students around you to make healthy choices. If necessary, seek help and support from other students or from medical staff.

I encourage you to sign the pledge to "Remember the Game". Pledges are available all week at the Gordie Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (ground level of Madison House, 170 Rugby Road) and are displayed on the South Lawn.

Enjoy the good times with family and friends at the football game on Thursday. Cheer on the Cavaliers, and have a great time in appropriate ways.

Very truly yours,

Teresa A. Sullivan


Safety Tips

  1. Don't leave a drunken friend alone regardless of whether or not she or he is conscious. Please remember:
    • BAC may continue to rise after a person passes out. Stay with the person and monitor breathing.
    • If the person is passed out and does not respond to a firm pinch, or vomits without waking up, call 911 immediately.
    • Students will not face reprisal for seeking medical help, and there is no charge for the rescue squad.

  2. If you are not sure a situation is an emergency, the Blue Ridge Poison Center provides free, expert medical advice 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-222-1222. If your own judgment is impaired, call a sober friend to help you assess the situation.

  3. Whenever you choose to drink, take precautions to minimize risks to yourself and others.
    • Before you go out, ask a friend to let you know when you've had enough.
    • Eat a high-protein meal beforehand and continue to eat while drinking.
    • Alternate alcoholic drinks with water or a non-alcoholic beverage.
    • Pace your drinks to one or fewer per hour.
    • Stay in a group in which at least one person remains sober.