Student Health Advisory Board addresses alcohol and safety issues at SRU

Published by adviser, Author: Logan Campbell - Asst. News Editor, Date: February 23, 2017
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The Student Health Advisory Board (SHAB) held its meeting Tuesday afternoon in the Smith Student Center room 319. It was an open discussion for students about the health and safety of campus.

The purpose of SHAB is to improve communication between students and the healthcare system around campus. The mission of SHAB is to focus on nutrition, physical well-being, wellness and drug and alcohol abuse. Kristina Benkeser, Student Health Services director, said it’s always interesting to see the students’ issues on campus. Benkeser is in charge of the Health Center and mentioned how students need to be aware that it is open 24/7. Benkeser assured students that their health is the top priority.

“Our commitment to health of our students is very important to us,” Benkeser said. “No matter who it is, or what happened, always bring a student who is too intoxicated to the Health Center. The Medical Amnesty Act prevents students from getting into trouble for bringing an intoxicated person to the Health Center.”

The Health Center has seen 89 cases over the last semester that have dealt with drug and alcohol issues. Benkeser said that the weekends are the busiest time at the Health Center, and over-consumption of alcohol is the most common case seen.

“Alcohol is the front from which bad decisions happen,” Benkeser said. “People under the influence of alcohol can’t give consent, and that’s a case where they go to police. We don’t want that to happen, so be safe if you do decide to drink and go out.”

Lt. Kevin Sharkey, of the SRU police department (SRUPD), was the next speaker on the guest panel. Sharkey assured everyone that the university police are here to care for the students and that students should not feel afraid when calling police. Sharkey touched on the amnesty law, as well as underage drinking and sexual violence on campus.

“Everyone is usually afraid to call police–give us a call, we’re here for all of you,” Sharkey said. “The amnesty law is that whoever calls police about a crime will not have any info about them released. You will remain confidential to everyone else except for our department.”

SRUPD will look to continue the programs in the residence halls around campus to further help with student safety.

The next speakers on the panel were Leigh Ann Gilmore, director for Office of Student Conduct, and Morgan Marshall, graduate assistant for Office of Student Conduct, who updated students on the number of incidents and extent of student conduct. Gilmore said the bulk of incidents involved are low-level residence hall cases.

When a student is cited by police, the student is brought to student conduct for evaluation. Gilmore said the majority of cases are referred to Title IX.

Gilmore said that outside of Title IX, the majority of cases deal with alcohol and drug offenses. The violations students receive stay on file with the Office of Student Conduct for seven years, unless written consent is provided by the subject of the case to remove it. Gilmore said if more than one fine occurs, the student may want to look into what will happen.

“If your finger is printed by police, you may want to look into that,” Gilmore said. “If you need to get something expunged, there are a few things the student needs to do. You need to be honest and upfront about what occurred.”

Gilmore advised students to be as successful as they can be while at SRU and to try and stay out of trouble.

Finally, Renee Bateman. health promotion coordinator, discussed a new platform for student health and safety coming soon to campus. Just In Case will be a new website with easier access to counseling center services and university police. Bateman said students need to be aware of the counseling center and use it if they need to, especially when alcohol is involved.

“Just In Case will have a variety of services available to student such as suicide awareness, alcohol, drugs and emergency services,” Bateman said. “We know students are going to drink, but we want to help prevent those risks. Students just need to make the best decisions and get help if they feel like they are harming themselves or others.”

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