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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Who’s to blame for the increase in hospitalizations

<od outside ‘Heaven and Hell’ last weekend, I chatted with a Carleton College security guard regarding the high rates of hospital visits for Carleton students this year. According to him, three times as many students have been rushed to the hospital in the first five weeks of this term than were taken to the hospital in the entirety of the 2007 – 2008 school year. The majority of these situations involved alcohol. Inevitably, the question is asked: how can a student population that historically values intelligence and hard work get so out of control on Friday nights?

The easy solution could be that the class of 2012 is just too much party for this small campus. But, as Carleton students, we are taught to dig deeper. Consider the Campus Climate survey conducted last year, the results of which revealed deep divides in the student body.

Every team, every major, every a capella group, seems to be forming lines that are increasingly difficult to transcend. Rather than becoming pigeon-holed in our lifestyles, I believe that it is time for every student on this campus to live more inclusively. The Carleton community can be strengthened by easy actions that may seem insignificant. Are we really so busy that we can’t spend five minutes chatting in the hall with others on our floor (or columns for you Evans folks)? It’s time to open up to those around us. And I don’t mean by engaging in the voyeurism of a gossip blog.

The effectiveness of my proposed solution is based on the simplicity of the behaviors necessary to cause this change on campus. If you are, for example, a physics major, hang out with your fellow majors until 4 am in Olin if that’s what it takes to finish up a problem set. But, don’t close yourself off the rest of campus the rest of the time. Ask how people are doing and actually care enough to listen. Help somebody else out when they’re struggling. Smile! If it’s so true that familiarity generates comfort, than it is about time that the Carleton students become a little more familiar with one another. The Carleton campus needs to be a place where all students are comfortable regardless of differences – this will lead to the creation of a healthy community.

The concept of a healthy community allows me to return to my original point. More students are going to the hospital this year and it must be because we don’t care about each other enough. If you have been at a party, you inevitably have witnessed behaviors that are precursors to a trip to the hospital.

By mutually developing the sense of community at Carleton, I think we can create an environment where students are more willing to look after their fellow students. It is easy for a single person to become dangerously intoxicated at a party. However, with a proper community that is concerned for the well being of each member, we can work to avoid the ultimate tragedy: an alcohol related death.

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