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Miami officials troubled by spike in alcohol-related hospitalizations

A spike in alcohol-related hospitalizations last weekend is particularly troubling to Miami University officials given the recent death of a student that was reported to be tied to alcohol.

From Feb. 9 to Feb. 12, 21 college-aged people were transported to McCullough-Hyde Memorial Hospital-TriHealth for alcohol-related reasons, according to Oxford Fire Chief John Detherage.

“It is a lot,” Detherage told this news outlet. “The previous weekend we had eight in about the same time frame.”

MORE: 23 arrested in underage drinking sting

The department’s response to such calls fluctuates “based on social activities, weather, beginning of the semester,” he said.

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The emergency calls made between Thursday evening and Sunday morning coincided with the end of the sorority rush season.

Eleven of the calls happened in about a three-hour window late Thursday night and early Friday morning, according to Detherage.

“We actually got through the entire bid period without any problems, so this was the first night that students were kind of on their own again and free to do whatever they wanted to do,” Jayne Brownell, vice president of student affairs, told our media partner WCPO.

Of the 21 students hospitalized, 17 are female and all but two are underage.

RELATED: New effort means jail time for underage drinkers at Miami

Miami University Police Chief John McCandless said it is not unusual in a college town to have four or five calls on weekend nights concerning medical treatment for alcohol consumption.

According to MUPD crime logs obtained by this news outlet, seven underage females were transported from campus to the hospital for underage intoxication. Transports were made from Phillips Hall, Armstrong Student Center, Munnich Hall, Swing Hall, Benton Hall and Anderson Hall.

The hospitalizations also come after reports that alcohol contributed to the death last month of a freshman student.

Erica Buschick, an 18-year-old from Illinois, was found dead Jan. 20 in her Morris Hall dorm room.

REPORT: Alcohol played role in Miami student’s death

Buschick’s official cause of death is still pending toxicology tests, but officials have said that alcohol played a role.

Miami University President Gregory Crawford wrote in a statement that police reports suggest “alcohol contributed to this tragedy.”

“High-risk alcohol consumption among college students is of concern to every university president and I am determined and committed to doing all that we can to help ensure the well-being of all of our students,” Crawford wrote.

Crawford held a meeting last Friday with leaders of fraternities and sororities in his home at Lewis Place, according to the school’s newspaper.

That meeting, which lasted approximately two hours, included almost 50 leaders from Miami’s Greek community, The Miami Student reported.

“We lost someone two weeks ago and that could have very easily happened last night,” he told the newspaper Monday. “Luckily, it didn’t because people stepped up to help,” Crawford said. “But what is happening with our culture as a whole, that two weeks later, students are not taking away messages from what happened to Erica?”

Miami University officials did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

“This is something that every college struggles with,” Brownell said. “I don’t think there’s a college in the country that has the magic bullet to fix this.”

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