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Out of control drinking at UW

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Out of control drinking at UW

By Jermont Terry. CREATED Nov 26, 2013 - UPDATED: Nov 26, 2013

MADISON - At the University of Wisconsin, campus police officers have reported finding students passed out naked in bushes. Some of the students have been covered in their feces. Police said blood alcohol levels are so high students ended up in the emergency room.

Think back to your college days. Do you remember the fun, friendships and festivities centered on partying?  Often it probably involved booze. The University of Wisconsin is used to dealing with drunk students. But drunken acts over the past four years have proven to be dangerous.

“I'm talking about the extreme ritualistic alcohol abuse,” said Sue Riseling, University of Wisconsin Chief of Police.

When the I-Team went to Madison we found officers are writing more than just tickets. We tagged along with Officer Dan Burgoni. While on patrol one weekend we spotted (insert hyperlink or link to dash cam video) an apparent intoxicated girl who fell down, then stayed in the middle of a busy street. 

Burgoni was forced to handcuff several intoxicated people and like many nights he dropped intoxicated students off at the county detox center.

"You're at a .225 right now. That's getting pretty high up there," explained Burgoni to a student taking a blood alcohol concentration test.

Overall students’ BAC levels keep climbing.  Since 2010 there’s been 30 cases where students blew higher than .03. A deadly level is considered .45. Since 2010, nearly 500 students have been so intoxicated they needed medical help and spent the night at the county detox center.

"It's irresponsible to drink to the point of ending up in an emergency or detox center," said Riseling.

After more than two decades as the chief of police at the University of Wisconsin Riseling has seen enough. She said the problem on campus is a matter of public safety. The I-Team asked Riseling if this was a state of emergency and if better awareness is needed.

"Right, I do. I would say we tried educating the students," added Riseling.

Now she’s demanding parents step up and engaged in this serious discussion.

"This is not your frat party mom and dad. We did not drink like they drink today,” said Riseling.

The I-Team was there when a suspected drunk driver flipped his car near campus off Johnson Street. The driver was trapped but had only minor injuries. However, on this campus you don’t have to be drunk and behind the wheel to be in danger way.

"The state has a drinking problem, the university has a drinking problem, and the students have a drinking problem. It's part of the culture and the culture keeps getting more and more entrenched,” said Riseling

The numbers show 40% of the students going to the detox center is young ladies. This holiday break the University is hoping parents take the time and have a talk to their children to address the out of control drinking problem.

According to Health First Wisconsin nationally binge drinking is defined as four to five drinks. But in Wisconsin that number jumps to nine. It’s believed the drinking behavior starts at the college level.

Jermont Terry

Jermont Terry

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Jermont Terry joined the TODAY'S TMJ4 team in January 2011. He currently leads the TMJ4 I-Team as the investigative reporter.