New details not available in Frey drug incident

Anya Zentmeyer

Grand Valley State University officials have released no new information about the four male students hospitalized Monday after ingesting what officials are still referring to as an “‘unknown narcotic.”

Despite reports from students that the four male students were abusing bath salts, the university said the drug is still undetermined.

“It’s a broad range of things we’re looking into, trying to piece together what happened — when, where, how,” Bart Merkle, dean of students at GVSU, told the media at a press conference held by university officials Tuesday at 1 p.m.

The students were transported to Spectrum Health Hospital around 7:15 p.m. on Monday from Frey Student Living Center on the Allendale Campus after the Grand Valley Police Department responded to a call from a resident assistant describing the students’ behavior as unusual.

Other student residents present at the time of the incident said they could hear the four students laughing uncontrollably, hitting their heads against the walls and screaming.

Reports from some students in Frey Living Center at the time indicated that the four males being transported resisted assistance from public safety, however, Merkle said police and living center staff were able to safely transport the students and no parties were harmed in the process.

“I think public safety was able to deal with them, I couldn’t speak to the specifics of whether they were resisting assistance or not,” Merkle said. “Our biggest concern was getting them transported so we could get them down to Spectrum.”

He said GVSU has an emergency on-call response system in place that notifies a team of staff members of any on-campus incident following the initial call placed to GVPD. The university also places a number of RAs, graduate assistants and living center staff in each building.

Eric Klingensmith, coordinator of the Alcohol Campus Education and Services office said that at GVSU, and across college campuses nationwide, alcohol is the most commonly used drug by college students, followed by marijuana. Education, awareness and prevention programs are also set in place at the university as disciplinary action for students charged with alcohol or marijuana violations.

In the case of the students in question, Merkle said it is hard to know at this time what the possible repercussions might be.

“We don’t know because we don’t really know what they were taking, and so the potential effects depend on what was involved,” Merkle said. “All we know at this juncture is that they’re in the hospital, they’re being treated, being monitored.”

Klingensmith said the university tries to keep “ahead of the curve” in regards to knowing what drugs students are using, adding that GVSU officials will attend an upcoming Emerging Drug Conference held by the Ottawa County Health Department in an effort to keep up with trends.

“(Alcohol and marijuana) are our two main focuses,” Klingensmith said. “We try to keep up with trends across the country so if things are popping up we want to start addressing them. As we start seeing things, we’ll definitely shift our focus. But we want to make sure our efforts are tied to the two we see the most.”

Both Merkle and Klingensmith said students should “keep an eye out for each other,” and said the university as an amnesty policy for residence halls that allows students who are worried about another student to call the police without fear of getting in trouble.

There are still no medical updates for the hospitalized students, but GVSU officials say they will release new information as they receive it.

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