By Alex Capara

Assistant Photo Editor

What is the one time of year when college students all across the country get to dress up in absurd costumes, rake in free candy and let the booze flow wildly around campus? If you answered “Halloweekend,” you are correct!

Although Halloween is a nationally celebrated holiday for people of all age groups, for some college students, it is just another excuse to get belligerently intoxicated.

Unfortunately, this kind of behavior sometimes comes with the cost of being sent to the campus health center due to alcohol overdose; at Denison, Whisler is that health center, and the staff was in high gear to prepare for D-Day on Friday night and Halloween on Saturday night. This year, however, the incidents over D-Day and Halloween weekend were no higher than any average weekend.

For Amanda Lefeld, the Director of the Whisler Center for Student Wellness, and Molly Thurlow-Collen, the Associate Director, students’ safety is the first priority. The duo has been working together for about four months now, and they have been taking big strides to prevent alcohol and drug incidents on large party weekends for events such as Halloween and D-Day, which happened to fall on the same weekend this year.

“As far as what we are doing internally, we have an EMT that is contracted on campus,” Lefeld said. “We have increased hours for this weekend to help accommodate what we might anticipate being a busier weekend for us.”

According to Thurlow-Collen, the precautions for this past weekend went as they normally do. Whisler was prepared with a triage nurse, an EMT and a student worker in place, but extra precautions were also added to the standard lineup.

“We beefed it up a little bit for this weekend just to make sure that we are prepared,” said Thurlow-Collen. In case things got out of hand, she is a Granville resident with the ability to be on the scene in a matter of minutes. “If there were an unusual amount of alcohol events combined with anything else, I am who gets called, and I would come and assist the personnel in place.”

In addition to these precautions, the Whisler staff put in months of diligent work prior to Halloween to make sure that students were aware of safe drinking habits. They distributed information about risk-reducing habits to RA’s and staff alike, encouraging them to engage in conversation about the misuse and abuse of alcohol, and other misconceptions that come along with the consumption of alcohol.

While Lefeld and Thurlow-Collen were prepared for a larger number of incidents than usual, it was not necessarily something that they anticipated. Historically, Halloween weekend has not been the hotbed of activity for the Whisler staff over previous years.

“The truth of the matter is that a lot of times when we anticipate it being really bad, it’s not. It’s when we’re not anticipating it that we can get blindsided,” said Thurlow-Collen.
Lefeld followed that up by discussing the fact that there are more opportunities off campus over Halloween weekend. For instance, many sororities hosted events off campus, some people went home to visit family and others went to visit friends at larger schools such as Ohio State or Ohio University.

“There are more off campus opportunities,” Lefeld said.  “We don’t have as many students coming in and being monitored or needing to be transferred to Licking Memorial… but we are aware of it, so it is on the forefront.”

Even with the off campus events to take some of the worry away from the staff, there are still a large number of students on campus who choose to partake in risky alcohol behavior.

“We are happy with how the weekend went,” Lefeld said on Monday morning. “That [statistic] speaks well to students looking out for each other or using some of the risk-reduction behaviors to monitor what they are doing.”

In its entirety, the Whisler staff was happy with how the situations were handled, and with the fact that there were no more incidents than usual, although a “usual” amount was not assigned a number value.

“We want our students to be safe,” said Thurlow-Collen, “that is what we care about.”

As Halloweekend comes to an end, the Whisler staff takes pride in the fact that they did what they could to keep Denison students safe and they hope to continue this success in the months to come.

Photo Courtesy of Denison Communications