Dangerous Drinking

Recent events put alcohol consumption in Ferris’ spotlight

by Published: Mar 6, 2013

College inge­nu­ity has turned a plas­tic cup, a ping pong ball and a hard sur­face into a col­le­giate national past time.

Whether there is an occa­sion worth cel­e­brat­ing or an unevent­ful Thursday night, some stu­dents have cho­sen to pass the bot­tle in order to pass the time. It’s not all fun and games though, and some­times drink­ing results in dan­ger­ous situations.

Ferris fresh­man Nick Suttles, who attended an off-campus party Feb. 14, shocked Big Rapids when he was found the fol­low­ing morn­ing in a snow bank along Division Street with­out a win­ter jacket, wear­ing only jeans and a T-shirt. Having been in the snow for an approx­i­mated five hours, he was rushed to a Grand Rapids hos­pi­tal for urgent treatment.

The Big Rapids Department of Public Safety is lead­ing an inves­ti­ga­tion of the night’s events with Ferris Department of Public Safety tak­ing a sup­ple­men­tary role, accord­ing to Captain Jim Cook, Ferris DPS interim director.

Briena Bushong, Ferris fresh­man in social work, is a friend of Suttles, and attended the off-campus party he was at.
“I have seen a lot of peo­ple fall into alco­holism. They stop going to classes or go to classes drunk. They think it’s not a big deal until some­thing like this hap­pens,” Bushong said.

According to Bushong, Nick’s char­ac­ter and kind demeanor made it easy to strike a kinship.

“If I was upset about some­thing, Nick would be in my room in about two min­utes,” Bushong said.

Following the inci­dent, she has re-evaluated her own deci­sion mak­ing processes regard­ing alco­hol use. In addi­tion, Bushong has changed her major from crim­i­nal jus­tice to social work with a focus on drug and alco­hol use in ado­les­cence as a result.

Education on the effects of alco­hol is done through­out cam­pus in res­i­dence halls in a con­certed effort to curb the like­li­hood of abuse. Ferris con­tin­ues to use Fatal Vision Goggles, edu­ca­tion in FSU Seminar classes and a mock drunk dri­ving acci­dent to ham­mer the point home, accord­ing to the 2011-12 Biennial Review.

“Sometimes you can over-educate peo­ple if they have the gog­gles on and ride a bike through the obsta­cle course and they do it OK. In the back of their minds they might be think­ing, ‘I can do this,’” Cook said.

Almost 38 per­cent of responses in the Biennial Review indi­cated that a stu­dent for­got where they were or what they were doing in a year’s time, which is 8 per­cent higher than the national aver­age, accord­ing to the review.

“Your past per­for­mance can usu­ally be a pre­dic­tor of future behav­ior,” Director of Big Rapids DPS and Ferris grad­u­ate Andrea Nerbonne said.

Nerbonne, whose offi­cers handed out 15 minor in pos­ses­sion cita­tions in February, has had an oppor­tu­nity to shut down an un-named Ferris fra­ter­nity due to alcohol-related con­cerns. The Padlock Law is a local ordi­nance which gives DPS the author­ity to close a place of res­i­dence if three or more vio­la­tions occur within a school year.

The fra­ter­nity in ques­tion received four vio­la­tions in a year’s span.

Nerbonne chose not to do so after meet­ing with the national pres­i­dent of the fra­ter­nity. She claimed that the meet­ing was ben­e­fi­cial, and her offi­cers have not responded to the res­i­dence since last November.

Students and com­mu­nity mem­bers alike are hope­ful that this recent inci­dent involv­ing the Ferris fresh­man sheds light on the neg­a­tive con­se­quences of alco­hol abuse and encour­ages stu­dents to dis­sect their own actions.

“I com­pletely quit drink­ing and do not plan on it any­time soon; it opened my eyes. I wish I didn’t need an eye opener, but I can say that it helped me and some of Nick’s friends see the dan­gers of drink­ing,”
Bushong said.