By Evamarie Socha
The Daily Item
LEWISBURG — House Party Weekend is history at Bucknell University, President John Bravman announced in a statement Thursday, one of several first steps to address alcohol abuse and student safety on the Lewisburg campus.
The move follows a unanimous vote by the school’s board to support Bravman's decision to end the event that last year saw 15 students hospitalized for alcohol overdose treatment, among other incidents that occurred in 48 hours. The board passed a resolution voicing "significant concern" about House Party Weekend and it's support for the administration to take whatever steps necessary.
Ending House Party Weekend, a traditional celebration of the school’s Greek organizations, “was done in the best judgment of many people to advance the cause of the university, which first and foremost is the health and safety of the students,” Bravman said during an interview at his campus office Thursday. “But secondly and powerfully, it’s a statement of who we are.”
Other changes include an end to the so-called medical amnesty policy, in which students who sought treatment for alcohol overdose were fined $25 and assessed a point on their school record. Bravman hopes, with the penalties gone, students won’t question seeking medical treatment for themselves or their friends.
A committee also will form this fall to include students, faculty and staff who will study Bucknell’s alcohol policy and offer recommendations for change.
In his letter, Bravman is straightforward with details of what happened over 48 hours of the last House Party Weekend, including 11 arrests for theft or burglary, four drug violations, five police reports of damaged property and a reported sexual assault.
15 students were hospitalized with blood-alcohol content levels at 0.239 or above. One was at 0.31 BAC and another at 0.373.
In three of those cases, doctors asked Bucknell officials to call the parents about the students’ conditions, fearing their lives were in danger.
Students attended classes intoxicated, and some staggered about campus and downtown Lewisburg barely able to walk. Some wandered in front of moving vehicles.
Bravman said the statistics from House Party Weekend didn’t surprise him.
“I intuited it from walking around campus,” he said. “This was a particularly bad weekend. I was not surprised. I was sad.”
Response to Bravman’s message was fast. After the letter was sent to the entire Bucknell community, including students, parents, alumni, faculty and staff, Bravman's letter was posted on Bucknell’s website by 10 a.m. Thursday; by noon, he had 200 emails on the subject, he said, expecting more Thursday evening.
“The vast preponderance (of email) has been amazingly supportive” from students, alumni and parents, he said. Some students cited immense peer pressure to drink excessively and told Bravman the news is a relief.
“I’ve also gotten some thoughtful, negative responses, and I respect that,” Bravman said. “We’re ending what some see as a hallowed, long-standing tradition.”