Friday, December 10, 2010

Dartmouth Psi Upsilon Charged After Underage Student Hospitalized

Dartmouth frat charged after drunk teen hospitalized

By MELANIE PLENDAUnion Leader Correspondent

HANOVER -- Another fraternity at Dartmouth College faces felony charges after a 17-year-old high school student -- and prospective Dartmouth swim team member -- had to be hospitalized after a night of drinking at Psi Upsilon, police said.

The fraternity is already facing three criminal charges for providing alcohol to minors stemming from earlier incidents this year.

The latest charge comes the same week the college unveiled a new plan to curb underage drinking.

According to Hanover police, the 17-year-old boy, a senior from an out-of-state high school, was visiting Dartmouth as a recruit for the swim team and a prospective student. He was being sponsored by a current Dartmouth student and shown around campus, said Hanover Police Chief Nicholas Giaccone. He would not say if the sponsor took the boy to the party later at Psi Upsilon on Oct. 23.

Giaccone said that after the teen drank several beers and mixed drinks in the house at 7 Wheelock St., he left the party. He was found lying on the steps of Thayer Dining Hall, which is near the fraternity house. Giaccone refused to say how much alcohol the boy had consumed or how long he may have been at the party.

He was taken to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center because police believed he was suffering from alcohol poisoning. He was treated and released the following day.

Police launched an investigation, and on Dec. 2, served the president of the house, William Haley, with two felony complaints for providing alcoholic beverages to minors.

This is the fourth pending case against the house. The organization could receive fines of up to $100,000 per count if convicted.

A Dartmouth spokesperson did not return a call.

Earlier this week, Sylvia Spears, Dartmouth's acting dean, and Dartmouth President Jim Yong Kim laid out plans to curb binge drinking on campus. Kim and Spears told the campus paper, The Dartmouth, that those initiatives include a peer-driven shuttle program; more alcohol education for undergraduates, particularly first- and second-year students; clarification of the Social Event Management Procedures; more training for undergraduate advisors and community directors; and hiring a project manager and evaluation specialist who can coordinate alcohol harm reduction resources across programs.

Those initiatives came out of suggestions from a panel -- the Student and Presidential Alcohol Harm Reduction Committee -- that convened earlier this year and released its report in May.

In January, Giaccone brought attention to the issue when, after seeing a spike in the blood-alcohol levels of underage drinkers on and off campus, he threatened to send undercover officers into Greek parties to try to catch those serving alcohol to minors. However, police reconsidered after major protests from students and administrators -- including President Kim -- and offered to give students a chance to rein in underage drinking on their own.

However, nothing has changed so far, Giaccone said.

"(The level of drinking) has stayed the same," he said. "In fact, our diversion program is booked out to May. Normally, it would only be booked out through February by this time of the year."