While the crowd of more than 2,400 students that attended Safety Dance this year was similar to those seen in years past, this fall’s event generated mixed reports about the number of alcohol-related incidents.
Only one student was sent directly from Commons to Yale-New Haven Hospital by the time the dance ended at early Sunday morning, and about 10 were transported to Yale Health, according to Yale Police Department Lieutenant Jay Jones. The single student hospitalization marked a noticeable decline from the number of students taken to Yale-New Haven during the 2010 dance, when five to six students were reportedly hospitalized.
Despite the positive reports of just one hospitalization from Jones and Silliman Master Judith Krauss, YPD Assistant Chief Steven Woznyk wrote in a Sunday night email that five students were taken to Yale-New Haven and eight to Yale Health. Those figures are more in line with the hospitalization tallies of the 2010 and 2009 Safety Dance.
Before Woznyk released his figures, Krauss said she expected the total number of ambulance transports would decline for this year’s dance.
Krauss, whose residential college sponsors the event, attributed the assumed drop in severe alcohol-related incidences to both this year’s new policy of selling tickets exclusively in advance and the administration’s decision to continue shutting the doors at 12 a.m., a rule enacted last year.
Not selling tickets at the door also allowed administrators, staff and volunteers running the event to focus their efforts entirely on monitoring students’ safety this year, Krauss said, allowing them to catch problems earlier in the night. Though students had speculated that these policies would cause heavier drinking in the shortened period before Commons’ doors closed, Krauss said she thought the single hospital incident she was aware of this year suggested the administration’s safety procedures worked.
“Students pre-game within whatever boundaries we give them,” she said. “We’ve learned this the hard way over the last twelve years of this dance. [These rules] help students stop drinking and start dancing before they become the next transport.”
Tori Stringfellow ’14, who chaired the committee that planned the 2011 Safety Dance, said she thought the new ticket policy discouraged students from drinking heavily beforehand and wandering into the dance, and instead urged them to plan their nights in advance.
While Krauss said the increased monitoring decreased the number of ambulance transports, she noted that it also upped the overall number of students pulled from the dance and sent to Yale Health for more minor issues related to alcohol. By Sunday morning, Yale Health was filled to capacity, she added in a Sunday email.
Jones said students were sent from Commons to the hospital only if they were entirely incapacitated. In other scenarios, it became a judgment call by the chaperone whether to send the student to Yale Health, he said.
“We do the best we can. I’m not a doctor, so we usually send them to Yale Health and then they might send them to the hospital,” he said.
Both Krauss and Jones said they believed some student abuse of alcohol was unavoidable, but that keeping down the percentage of students taken to Yale-New Haven this year was a success on the whole.
“As far as I’m concerned, one incident of alcohol poisoning is one too many but in the context of 2,500 people, not so bad,” Krauss said. “That said, we need to do everything we can to reduce the number of serious incidents to zero, in order to ensure the safety of the few and the great experience of the many.”
At least eight students were taken to medical facilities for alcohol-related issues in 2009.