Spring Break goers should take care, be safe, official says

For many, Spring Break is a time to let loose and have some care-free fun. But some officials say what a student does in that one week of not-so-clean fun could have a lifetime of consequences. TCU Police sent an e-mail Thursday to all students giving guidelines for them to follow in order to avoid Spring Break dangers.

“Some students die,” said Laura Crawley, assistant dean of campus life for health promotions. “Every year, there are a couple of students, nationally, who lose their lives.”

According to the U.S. Department of State travel Web site, these deaths are often a result of automobile accidents, drowning or falls that can occur during alcohol or drug abuse.

“We’ve had several students over the years who drank too much and have gotten really sick. We’ve also had students who have gotten their drinks spiked,” Mike Russel, assistant dean of campus life, said Thursday. “I think the biggest thing is car accidents. Students are too tired or have had too much to drink when they decide to drive.”

Crawley said TCU also sees an increase in Health Center visits the week after Spring Break for checks for pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

“With the Health Center’s concern for student privacy, we can’t say how much of an increase we see,” Crawley said. “But overall, nationally, and certainly at other institutions I’ve worked at, we expect to see people come in for that.”

STDs and pregnancies that occur during Spring Break are often related to alcohol or drug use, according to a study published in the Journal of American College Health.

A 1998 study of 783 students was conducted at a beach-front destination in Panama City, Fla., to determine the prevalence of binge drinking during Spring Break. The survey said the consequences of binge drinking include severe liver damage, neurological problems and heightened risk of suicides and STDs.

The study also found the average college-age male consumed 18 drinks per day and the average female had 10 drinks. In addition, nearly half of the students drank until they became sick or passed out at least once over Spring Break, according to the study.

The Web site also says there is an increased risk for robbery, rape and sexual assault during Spring Break, especially when students are under the influence of alcohol or drugs and get lost in an unfamiliar area.

In an effort to curb unhealthy behavior during Spring Break, Programming Council and Hyperfrogs hosted an event called Safe Spring Break this week.

Kristen Chapman, special events director for Programming Council and Safe Spring Break, said she hopes the safety tips given during Safe Spring Break have helped counter the dangers associated with break.

“There are so many stories of incidents – accidents, injuries, illnesses, even deaths – associated with Spring Break,” Chapman said. “Even if they did not happen to anyone on campus, we should still make an effort to remain safe and smart over the break.