CSC reacts to party gone bad

Castleton students received an e-mail before February break explaining what had occurred at an off campus party, where a handful of students were taken to the hospital after apparently using drugs. The issue has died down since, but just what happened that night? And what do
school officials think of the matter?

“College students are risk takers. They take a risk by putting everything off and going to college,” said Dean of Students Gregory Stone.

Stone believes that students who do drugs, including alcohol, go through a process of how much of a risk they are going to take. The students determine how much they will be altered and whether they like it. If they don’t, they choose not to do it again, he said.

In cases of drugs, the school’s job is to identify whether the student using the drug was simply trying it out, or if they really do have a drug problem. After this, the school figures out what is a suitable punishment or program to help them.

“It is not about doing drugs, but knowing about them and knowing how they alter your state,” Stone said.

Castleton Police Chief Bruce Sherwin said the schools in the Castleton school district do participate in a drug awareness program called D.A.R.E. This program is run by the police department and is taught by one of the department’s sergeants. But they have little to do with an awareness program on the college campus.

Stone said any drug situation is handled like any other medical emergency. Public Safety will respond during any time of day, and if the incident is on campus, nurse Deb Choma from CSC’s Wellness Center will join for medical attention. Then it is determined if additional outside medical help is needed, he said.

After everyone is safe the school and police conduct an investigation, and then consequences are considered.

The punishments for those students involved in the drug incident at the off campus party are confidential with the school, but the students are still attending Castleton. Those from off campus involved are now banned from the campus, and if seen on campus, authorities will be notified and they will be arrested, said Stone.

On the night of the incident, all of Castleton’s CAs were promptly contacted. Laura Olson was with Greg Lamoy who was on duty and was contacted by public safety to act on the situation.

They were directed to go and check every room and bathroom to see if fellow students were responsive. Students were not thrilled about being woken up at 1:55 a.m.

“Some people were really cranky,” said Olson, “but it had to be done because some people just put their friends to bed thinking it’s all okay.”

Olson explained that this night was a little more intense than usual, but she said the effort was needed.

She and Lamoy did have to go check every dorm room to the best of their ability. However, they were not allowed to key into the rooms without a reason.

If students did not answer the door they were left alone, but if it sounded as if they were hiding something in the room then they did have the right to go in and check on what was going on.

Olson said she is proud of the emergency response system CSC has with the CAs and public safety and thinks it is very efficient.

Castleton Director of Public Safety Bob Godlewski agrees. He said requiring students to sign in guests is affective and a means to know who is on campus and keep them all safe. This system came in handy the weekend of the incident.

Although authorities have not officially named the drug allegedly used at the party, several student sources indicated the drug was thought to have been ecstasy.

Those who sold it to the students at the off campus party were guests from another school. Since they had been signed in to the campus, the school had photos of those four people from off campus. These photos made it easier to identify the guests to the Castleton police.

Despite the recent incident, Godlewski said “we do not have a big drug issue.” He said he gets updates daily on much worse problems on other college campuses.
But there are drugs at Castleton and when found, the matter is turned over to police, he said.

Godlewski feels that the night in question was handled very well. When Public Safety was alerted, they sent officers to go investigate and then they contacted the police and finished the investigation.

School officials said the two students taken to the hospital were somewhat responsive. The students who took the drugs thought that it was ecstasy, but mentioned in an interview with the police that Godlewski heard that they had tried ecstasy before and the reaction this time was not the same.

Godlewski said that it is very common that over the counter drugs are sold and told to be ecstasy. Since the drugs taken the night of the party were mixed with alcohol it was even harder to tell what was used.

Public safety is now on a higher alert as a result of the incident, Godlewski said.