University of Maryland alcohol poisoning cases sharply rise

The resumption of classes on university campuses nationwide is always a time when students gather to start new classes, reconnect with friends and, of course, have a good time.

However, at the University of Maryland, that final piece may be causing more problems than usual. The fall semester in College Park began Aug. 29, and since then, more than two dozen students have been rushed to area hospitals with alcohol poisoning.

On 28 occasions during the first week of school, an ambulance took a University of Maryland student for treatment for the ailment. It's nearly twice the number during this period last year, officials say.

The sharp rise has University of Maryland Police officials concerned and they say the so-called "rite of passage" needs to stop. Chief David Mitchell says that some booze-saturated students will be disciplined, but most will be referred for counseling.

With a student population reaching far into the tens of thousands, some students believe that the message may not ever get through.

"I think they do the best they can to prevent it, but with a population like this, I don't think there's much they can do," Maryland student Melanie Morales said.