Archive for January, 2010

[CR] Week in Review

Friday, January 29th, 2010

On Wednesday, [CR] President John McCardell traveled to Fairfield University in Connecticut to debate the drinking age with James Fell of the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation in an event sponsored by the University’s Student Association. Fairfield Citizen reporter Anthony Karge was on hand to cover the event, and he spoke to Dr. McCardell, who characterized Legal Age 21 as a “well-intended law which fosters abhorrent behavior.” Read the article for a review of Wednesday’s event, and then check out the rest of the week’s headlines:

Stories this week:

Fairfield wasn’t the only place to feature a debate between Dr. McCardell and Mr. Fell. The Police Executive Research Forum printed a point/counterpoint debate between them in the pages of their publication Subject to Debate. Check out the latest issue here – click on the 1/2010 link for access to the PDF file. The essays begin on page 4.

Chappaqua, NY resident Audrey Furfaro responded to the Journal News article about a police training program for breaking up chaotic underage drinking parties with a different suggestion: lower the drinking age. She wrote, “We treat people who are 18-19 as adults to send them to war, sign contracts, vote, etc. The focus should properly be on stopping those under 18 or still in high school from drinking, but we have cheapened the value and respect of the law by over-criminalizing drinking.”

If you missed it earlier this week, make sure to read the Rutland Herald editorial in support of the drinking age debate, which was published on Tuesday.

In other news…

A report from the Wisconsin Radio Network indicates that dangerous drinking is still a major problem at the University of Wisconsin, despite the efforts of administrators. Janet Duberry, who runs an alcohol education course for students who violate the university’s alcohol policy, said that she is getting busier every semester: “Unfortunately, our classes are very full, in fact we’re adding classes this semester…they’re drinking so thoughtlessly, and without knowing that there are consequences. They’ve normalized it to the point where they forget about the consequences.”

Nebraska is one of a small handful of states where the age of majority is not 18 across the board, but some state legislators are working to change that: the Associated Press reported that lawmakers gave initial approval to a measure that would allow 18 year-olds to enter into legally binding contracts and receive medical care without parental consent. Despite these developments, Legal Age 21 will remain unchanged.

The Daily Iowan editorial board has high hopes for a new responsible drinking campaign at the University of Iowa. The program intends to “initiate a shift away from dangerous drinking toward responsible, controlled consumption.” Check out Monday’s editorial for details.

Stay tuned for news of Dr. McCardell’s recent taping with Reason.tv. Leave us a link in the comments section if you found another newsworthy item from this week.

Rutland Herald editorial: Time to debate 21

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

On Tuesday, the editors of the Rutland Herald covered last week’s hearing in Vermont and decided that the debate about the drinking age is one worth having:

“McCardell is doing us a service by drawing attention to the pathology of drinking that exists around the nation. His view was shaped by his years as president of Middlebury College, where he saw the toll taken by the binge drinking and other immature behavior caused by the 21-year-old legal age and the need for students to socialize in secret. Even if discussion of a lower age is mostly abstract, it is useful for how it forces us to recognize the ways we encourage our young people to behave in a self-destructive fashion.”

The editors also pointed out that the result of Legal Age 21 is “to sequester those below 21 into dorm rooms or forest clearings where the excitement of the forbidden gives an extra thrill to the excesses that occur.” To put it bluntly, they wrote, “It is as if we want kids to go off by themselves beyond the reach of common sense.”

Read the rest of the editorial and leave your feedback in the comments.

John McCardell on KSTP-AM

Monday, January 25th, 2010

Shawn Prebil and Chris Murphy of the “Prebil & Murphy Show” on KSTP-AM in St. Paul, Minnesota interviewed [CR] President John McCardell after Thursday’s hearing on underage drinking in Vermont. The hearing received plenty of press coverage, and Dr. McCardell joined KSTP’s mid-day hosts to talk about the drinking age debate.

Dr. McCardell joined the hosts in the 3rd hour of Friday’s show…the interview is available as an mp3 file here. Check it out!

[CR] Week in Review

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

John Curran of the Associated Press attended yesterday’s hearing on underage drinking in Vermont, and he spoke to [CR] President John McCardell and some others to get a sense of the need to debate the effectiveness of Legal Age 21. State Rep. John Moran told Curran that he thinks the federal highway funding penalty attached to the drinking age inhibits Vermont’s ability to come up with its own solutions: “We don’t want the federal government to tell the state of Vermont. This is an issue the state of Vermont should be discussing, as we’ve done today.” If you notice news of the hearing elsewhere, leave us a link in the comments section. For now, here are some other headlines we’ve been following:

Stories this week:

On Monday, Press of Atlantic City education blogger Diane D’Amico had some advice for the recently-formed New Jersey Task Force on Underage Drinking in Higher Education: “Obviously the issue is controversial.  But when kids are drinking themselves all the way to the emergency room adults have to look at the reality that exists, not the one they wish for.”

Wendy Lovell, a writer for the Delta magazine of the Sigma Nu fraternity, covered the drinking age debate in the recently-published Winter 2010 issue. Check it out here to read about how one fraternity is addressing the problem of binge drinking among its members.

In recent months, we’ve heard a number of different reports about increasing alcohol-related problems on certain college campuses. Loyola Marymount University can be added to that list of schools, according to a report by Loyolan writer Heather Chong: “New data provided by Public Safety reveals that over the past three years (2007, 2008 and 2009) there has been a significant increase in the number of documented alcohol cases. Per 100 students living on campus in 2007, 5.7 alcohol incidents were reported. By 2009, that number increased to 8.4 incidents.”

In other news…

Medill Reports at Northwestern University explored the Chicago Social Drinking Project, an initiative founded in 2004 that studies drinkers in an informal setting rather than in a research laboratory. According to a 2007 study done by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Chicago ranked highest for binge drinking rates on a list of the 15 largest cities in the country. The project’s work intends to study how certain drinking patterns might predict alcoholism later in life. Patrick McNamara, the project’s coordinator, said, “We are looking at different models of why people actually progress into alcoholism later in life. The overall goal here is to ask: Can the subjective response during the rise and decline of the blood alcohol curve be predictive of future drinking patterns?”

In case you missed it, make sure to read Miramonte High School junior Caroline Cook’s call for medical amnesty policies in California in the Monday edition of the Los Angeles Times.

Did we miss something in this week’s update? Let us know in the comments.

Vermont Hearing on Underage Drinking

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

This morning, [CR] President and founder John McCardell testified on the issue of toxic drinking in Vermont in front of the Vermont House Committee on General, Housing, and Military Affairs. Louis Porter of the Vermont Press Bureau previewed the hearing this morning in the Barre Montpelier Times Argus. Dr. David Jernigan of the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health also testified. State Rep. Helen Head said that their testimony would help inform the legislature about the problem in Vermont: “We thought that hearing from these experts would provide us some context in thinking about this issue,” she said.

Check out Porter’s article and read our Week in Review tomorrow for more coverage of the hearing.

LA Times Op-Ed on Amnesty Policies

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

Caroline Cook, a junior at Miramonte High School in Orinda, CA, wrote an op-ed this week for the Los Angeles Times that called on the state legislature to explore amnesty policies for young adults who seek medical help for intoxicated friends. Cook was a good friend of Joe Loudon, a Miramonte sophomore who passed away after a night of drinking last May. Cook wrote,

“There was alcohol at the party where Joe died. The coroner found that he had been drinking — though not enough to be legally drunk — but didn’t determine a cause of death. A lot of people in town believe that Joe died, at least in part, because other underage drinkers at the party were reluctant to call 911 for fear of being punished…

Of course, it might be better if teenagers didn’t drink, but they do, and that isn’t likely to change. In Northern California, where I live, the 2007 California Healthy Kids Survey found widespread alcohol consumption by students in my high-achieving high school district. Thirty-eight percent of ninth-graders and 68% of 11th-graders admitted consuming alcohol at least once, with 22% and 43%, respectively, having consumed alcohol within the last 30 days. In Los Angeles County, the survey found that 48% of ninth-graders and 63% of 11th-graders had imbibed; 28% and 36% respectively within the last 30 days. These numbers are not far out of line with national statistics.”

Cook also noted that problems occur as a result of the gap between messaging and perception: “Teens are often skeptical of the warnings they’ve received about the dangers of alcohol, and so don’t recognize when someone is in immediate and critical need of help.”

What do you think? Check out the rest of her piece and leave your feedback in the comments.

[CR] Week in Review

Friday, January 15th, 2010

[CR] has joined GoodSearch, a database of non-profits that allows users to donate money to their favorite organizations simply by using a search engine. Just enter “Choose Responsibility” in the “Who do you GoodSearch for?” box on the GoodSearch homepage, and click Verify. Then use the system’s search engine, and a portion of the advertising revenue generated will be donated to [CR]. The more often you search, the more we receive. For the rest of this week’s happenings, here’s a rundown of the latest headlines:

Stories this week:

Last year, two students died in alcohol-related incidents at Kansas University. But according to Jesse Fray of the Lawrence Journal-World, binge drinking continues to be a problem among students, where off-campus drinking is becoming more popular than on-campus drinking. Survey results also show that about a third of KU students binge drink. Marlesa Roney, KU’s Vice Provost for Student Success, said, “There’s still a significant issue with alcohol consumption on campus and still a need to continue to work hard, to educate our students and give our students tools to make better decisions.”

The editors of the Daily Princetonian conducted a survey on alcohol use among Princeton University students, and some of the results were unsettling: 53% of respondents said at least once they had been drunk enough to throw up. Gabriel Debenditti covered the survey results and the larger culture of alcohol at Princeton today in a story called “The Nightmare Scenario.”

In the wake of a pair of alcohol poisoning deaths in 2004, the city of Boulder, Colorado began a widespread effort to work with University of Colorado administrators to curb dangerous drinking among students. The number of groups formed to address this issue grew to 14, and now, the two groups will streamline their efforts under one umbrella organization: the Campus-Community Coalition on Alcohol Abuse. Check out Heather Urie’s article in the Daily Camera to learn about the group’s formation.

In other news…

Hayley Peterson of the Washington Examiner reported on a controversy brewing over a proposed 10-cent-per-drink tax in Maryland. The new tax “would apply to every 8 ounces of alcohol — totaling about 55 cents for a bottle of wine and 75 cents on a handle of liquor.” The bill’s sponsors hope the tax will curb dangerous alcohol consumption, while its opponents argue that customers will simply take their business to other states. What’s your take?

Penn State Daily Collegian columnist Rich Coleman listened to This American Life’s story about heavy drinking at PSU from late December, and he didn’t like what he heard: “when the residents here install motion sensors around their houses to combat trespassing drunks or can correctly identify the sound of a stop sign being dragged across the ground, then we have officially become, at the very least, bad neighbors.” In the end, he wrote, “when you step back from everything and see how our dependence on alcohol and its effects must look to an outsider — in this case through the eyes of a radio show host and his crew who make their living documenting different places and people — you start to rethink things. Suddenly, the normalcy of binge drinking and pregaming turns into absurdity.”

Do you have a story for our update this week? Leave a link in the comments.

WHO Recommends Price Rises, Marketing Restrictions to Curb Binge Drinking

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

Stephanie Nebehay of Reuters reported this week on the World Health Organization’s new series of recommendations as part of its draft global strategy to curb alcohol-related problems such as binge drinking. The primary recommendations include higher alcohol taxes and tighter marketing restrictions. According to the report,

“Consumers, including heavy drinkers and young people, are sensitive to changes in the price of drinks… Increasing the price of alcoholic beverages is one of the most effective interventions to reduce harmful use of alcohol.”

Check out the full report at Reuters and let us know what you think in the comments.


Iowa Considers Banning Everclear After Alcohol Poisonings

Monday, January 11th, 2010

Officials with Iowa’s Alcoholic Beverages Division are considering a ban on Everclear, a type of potent grain alcohol, after several incidents involving underage drinkers that resulted in alcohol poisonings. In early November, a Drake University first-year spent a pledge evening at a fraternity house consuming large quantities of the liquor, and had to be hospitalized for treatment with a blood alcohol content of .50. Lynn Walding, an administrators with the Iowa ABD, told Amy Lynn Wanek of Politics Daily,

“The danger is how quickly that can elevate someone to a state of intoxication…someone who doesn’t have experience with alcohol can quickly find themselves in a dangerous situation. If you drink half a bottle of Everclear, that can be lethal. What we are seeing, and what we have heard of, are young people, often underage, who don’t have that familiarity with alcohol to know any better.”

Check out the full story for more on the controversy surrounding Everclear in Iowa.

[CR] Week in Review

Friday, January 8th, 2010

This week brought a major announcement about leadership changes at Choose Responsibility. Dr. John McCardell, [CR]’s founder and President, announced that he will step down on June 30 to take the role of 16th Vice President and Chancellor at Sewanee: The University of the South. Dr. McCardell will be succeeded by Barrett Seaman, who is a founding member of [CR]’s Board of Directors, former Time magazine correspondent and editor, and author of Binge: Campus Life in an Age of Disconnection and Excess. Inside Higher Ed’s Scott Jaschik picked up the announcement and has a full report here.

Stories this week:

South Dakota State Representative Tim Rounds has announced that he will move ahead with his plan to introduce a bill that will adjust the state’s drinking age in certain circumstances. He told David Montgomery of Pierre, SD’s Capital Journal, “I’m not going to propose that 19-year-olds can have the same rights as 21-year-olds right now. But I would allow a 19-year-old to consume a malt beverage in a private establishment. It’s not going to allow them to buy a six-pack at the convenience store and it’s not going to allow them to buy a glass of wine at a restaurant. It’s only going to allow them to go to a special establishment that’s properly licensed.” What are your thoughts on this proposal?

If you missed it earlier in the week, read Stephanie Simon’s Wall Street Journal report on recent campaigns to combat drunk driving with new technological tools, and the controversy that surrounds some of these efforts.

A Michigan State University student who died of alcohol poisoning in November had a blood alcohol content of 0.35, more than four times the legal limit for a Michigan motorist to be charged with drunk driving, according to an update provided by the Detroit Free Press.

In other news…

Eve Conant of Newsweek wrote about the fight between prevention officials and industry representatives over alcoholic beverage labeling in a web exclusive for the magazine. What do you think about the current state of labeling requirements for the alcohol beverage industry?

Thomas Fleming, a former President of the Society of American Historians, penned an op-ed piece for the Saturday edition of the Wall Street Journal on the lingering legacy of Prohibition. Check it out here.

Southern Vermont College will institute a social norms campaign that intends to teach students about the realities of alcohol on college campuses. Read Patrick McArdle’s report in the Rutland Herald for details.

Did we miss something in our first weekly update of 2010? Leave us a link in the comments.