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BU cracks down on student drinking

Boston University police plan to increase alcohol enforcement patrols starting this weekend, earlier in the semester than usual, after a recent spike in hospital visits for acute intoxication, campus officials said Friday.

Compared with the fall semester, the number of alcohol-related hospitalizations among BU students is up 7 percent so far this semester, including 11 students who had to go to the hospital in the past week as a result of excessive drinking.

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“Obviously, we just want our students to be aware and to exercise good judgment,” said university spokesman Colin Riley .

Campus police do not normally deploy additional alcohol enforcement patrols at this time of year, Captain Robert Molloy told the university’s news website BU Today. Extra patrols are usually sent out only during the fall and in the warmer parts of spring.

But he said the numbers so far this semester are prompting action.

Starting this weekend, campus officers, some of whom will be in plainclothes, will patrol around and near campus, said Molloy. The crackdown on alcohol-related violations will continue “until further notice.”

Police departments in Boston and Brookline have been notified about the rise in alcohol-related hospitalizations, Molloy said.

Of the 11 students who needed medical attention this past week, nine were transported to the hospital early Saturday and Sunday, officials said. Five of the 11 were under the legal drinking age, and three were freshmen.

Police said they are not sure why the numbers were so high this past weekend. One student taken to a hospital told police he attended a party at a fraternity in Allston, but did not tell police which fraternity, Molloy said.

BU said it has seen student alcohol-related hospital runs, as well as alcohol violations, drop in recent years. During the 2010-11 academic year, 248 alcohol-related hospitalizations were reported, campus officials said. The next year, the figure declined to 211 and then to 158 in the 2012-2013 school year.

During the fall semester of this academic year, there were 90 hospitalizations for intoxication, which was about a half dozen more than the prior fall, officials said.

BU has attributed the overall decline in alcohol-related hospitalizations and violations to new enforcement measures that were adopted three years ago.

The effort, modeled on a plan credited with reducing off-campus intoxication at the University of California, includes increasing police patrols in party neighborhoods, breaking up loud and disorderly parties, arresting or citing lawbreakers, and posting enforcement statistics on the university’s website.

BU said it also began requiring first-year students to take an online alcohol education course.

Matt Rocheleau can be reached at matthew.rocheleau@ globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @mrochele.
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