Alcohol suspected in death of Miami University freshman

Posted at 1:10 PM, Feb 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-02 22:14:45-05

OXFORD, Ohio -- Alcohol may have played a role in the death of an 18-year-old Miami University student found dead on campus last month, according to the university's president.

That student, freshman Erica Buschick, was found dead in a dorm room in Morris Hall Jan. 20. The official cause of death is still pending toxicology, but Miami President Greg Crawford wrote in a statement that police reports suggest "that 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.

Miami has had some issues with student alcohol abuse, prompting several fraternity suspensions. The university also added mandatory online courses on alcohol and sexual assault.  Crawford said more steps may be coming to educate students "on the dangers of high-risk alcohol consumption" and the resources to prevent it.

"I have asked our Dean of Students, Dr. Michael Curme, to reinforce this message to our students," Crawford wrote. "With the help of external experts, I will be working with the university’s senior leadership to undertake a holistic assessment of our efforts."

Buschick, of Gurnee, Illinois, was studying special education and was a member of Miami's Best Buddies chapter, according to the university. Crawford wrote that she was "a vibrant young woman with hopes and dreams ahead of her."

"Our immediate focus was on her family and friends, and the university will continue to support them as they cope with their loss," Crawford wrote.

A police report confirmed via interviews with Buschick's friends that she had been drinking heavily the night before her death, adding that there did not appear to be any reason to suspect suicide or foul play in the incident.

"This is something that every college struggles with," said Jayne Brownell, vice president for Student Affairs. "I don’t think there’s a college in the country that has the magic bullet to fix this."