Many students caught drunk at homecoming

Nate Belman and Max Karp

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Wilson plans to make significant logistical changes to the homecoming dance after an abnormally high number of students were caught under the influence this year. A number of students were kicked out of the event for intoxication or drug use, and some were taken to ambulances.

“There has always been an issue with students coming to homecoming intoxicated,” SGA sponsor and English teacher Natalie Zuravleff said. 

Both Zuravleff and Principal Kimberly Martin said the reason for an increased security presence at the dance this year was the larger number of students attending, not an increased number of intoxicated students. “We had more security only because we knew that there were more kids,” Martin said.

Though no major new security measures were put in place this year, there were several procedures meant to prevent student intoxication at the dance. 

“The students have to go through three checkpoints to get into homecoming,” Zuravleff said. “They have to get through the door which Mr. Hernandez lets in only a handful of kids at a time, and they have to get through the table where we check people off on the list, and then they have to get through security, so the kids who are the most intoxicated tend to get filtered out somewhere in those three checkpoints.” 

“We have people walking all through the crowds, like deans and assistant principals,” Martin added.

During the dance, Wilson deans surveyed the atrium for students that seemed intoxicated, and removed them from the open area. They were then taken to the “drunk tank,” a holding area for intoxicated students which was in the front security office. 

To determine whether or not students were intoxicated, deans checked off a list of indicators. “It was pretty easy,” Martin said of identifying students under the influence. “They can’t walk straight. They are profusely vomiting or passing out.”

Wilson dealt with intoxicated students on a case-by-case basis. “Sometimes, we sent them in the ambulance, depending [on] if we were concerned about whether it was more than alcohol or if [it was] alcohol poisoning from binge drinking,” Martin said. “In all situations we called parents and asked [for] the students to be picked up.”

A student that wishes to remain anonymous recalled their experience upon being taken from the dance. “They put me in the security room, where there were a bunch of other drunk people and EMTs,” they said. “They then took my vitals and called my mom, who picked me up.”

Punishments for students removed from the dance varied. “They suspended me for three days,” the anonymous student said. Others received behavioral warnings, while receiving no formal suspension. 

To prevent similar outcomes in the future, Wilson administration is considering making significant changes to the dance. “I think we’re going to not allow any non-Wilson students at dances anymore,” Martin said. “And [we might] limit the number of tickets that we sell.”

 Martin also noted that there is no guarantee that dances like this will continue to happen. “Of course, we don’t have to have dances anymore,” Martin said. “We’re not quite there, but we’ve got to change the expectation that students can just come and behave like they did.”

In a weekly newsletter sent to Wilson families the day after the dance, Martin talked about the dangers of underage drinking and ways to prevent it. “As a parent, you hold tremendous influence over whether your child decides to drink or not. Be informed and be clear that you disapprove of underage drinking, model healthy behavior, and find opportunities to discuss the dangers of alcohol.”