OXFORD, Ohio -- Dozens of people were charged with underage drinking last weekend near Miami University, part of a crackdown in the college town spurred by one student's death and the hospitalizations of many more.
State agents arrested 17 people Friday at Johnny's Campus Deli on East Sycamore Street. All used fake identifications to buy beer, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol's Ohio Investigative Unit.
"After the incidents that had taken place, we thought that we definitely needed to get some guys up there and see what was going on," said Adam Johnson, agent-in-charge at the Cincinnati district office.
The 17 suspects were charged with underage possession and issued a summons to appear in the Butler County Area I Court for judicial hearings in the upcoming weeks.
Agents also seized 21 fake drivers' licenses and student ID cards from the underage suspects, according to the state patrol. Those fake IDs are getting harder to detect, Johnson said.
"It's a real picture, it's got their real information on it," he said. "The only thing that's fake is their date of birth."
Separately, Oxford police arrested 15 people for underage drinking last weekend, and Miami University police arrested three. Three other students were hospitalized under the university's good Samaritan policy but were not charged.
"We're working on some training programs to put in place just for the bystander out there to make sure people are getting help," Oxford Police Chief John Jones said.
Problem drinking has come under a spotlight since a Miami student was found dead in her dorm room Jan. 20 after a night of heavy drinking. Then, a few weeks later, drunken students filled an emergency room to capacity and nearly forced it to turn away other patients, Oxford Police Sgt. Jon Varley told WCPO last week.
Of 21 students treated, nineteen were underage and 17 were women.
"It becomes concerning to us that so many people are getting to that level of intoxication that they need help," he said.
University president Dr. Gregory Crawford promised to give the issue his full attention. He cited data from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism showing that more than 1,800 college students die from alcohol-related incidents each year -- nearly five per day.
Oxford police said the vast majority of underage drinking happens inside party houses off campus.
Varley told WCPO he has never seen the drinking problem at Miami so bad.
"It's going to have to be a grassroots change and a change of the culture of Miami," he said.
Miami says the effort is under way. Among other things, it placed birthdates on student ID cards to counteract the use of fake IDs.
The university also said it would host an official from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism next month to assess Miami's programs. In addition, the university and the city of Oxford are working together to help train uptown vendors and taxi drivers to recognize alcohol poisoning.
University programs and resources in place are listed online.