DA Morganelli enlists CHC for war on college drinking
On July 18, Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli met with Northampton County’s four college presidents to see what could be done to curb college drinking. “Alcohol is still the drug of choice,” he said. He wants to avoid tragedies like last year’s death of a Lafayette College freshman, who fractured his skull in an apparent fall during a weekend of drinking.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die each year from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, including motor-vehicle crashes. Nearly 696,000 students are assaulted by another student who has been drinking. Morganelli described a culture of drinking on college campuses that is both damaging and deadly, especially to incoming freshmen.
Pennsylvania has a medical amnesty law that shields underage students from prosecution if they seek medical assistance for a student who may be suffering from alcohol poisoning or worse. To ensure that students know they can seek help without fear of retribution, the Center for Humanistic Change (CHC) will be providing educational pamphlets to all alcohol distributors within a five-mile radius of each of Northampton County’s four schools.
Morganelli has already sent a letter to each distributor, asking them for their help in curbing underage drinking. “These are the fellows we want on our side,” he remarked.
Sonia Oliveira, a program specialist with CHC, will follow up with personal visits. CHC Executive Director Arlene Lund explained that her agency is an alcohol, tobacco, and drug education and prevention organization. “Scare tactics do not have an impact,” she warned. “We want to have a conversation.”
Morganelli may next expand his outreach to bars that surround colleges.