Archive for March, 2010

Faster Times Columnist on Parents and Legal Age 21

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

In her latest column, Faster Times contributor Karin Kasdin shared her experience of Legal Age 21 from a parent’s perspective. She called the disconnect between the age of majority and the drinking age “ludicrous,” and also wrote about her son, who was once removed from his Boston University dorm for underage drinking:

“The university banished him from the dorm and gave us ten days to find him off-campus housing.  We were furious at him and rightfully so. He showed flagrant disrespect for the rules. But what kind of punishment was this? Our poor boy was forced by the university to live in his own apartment where he could throw as many unsupervised parties as he liked and serve as much booze as he could amass with his fake ID. My son, (who, just for the record, does not have a drinking problem and is now married, gainfully employed and a credit to BU and his parents) was going to drink at college whether or not drinking was permitted. Most parents’ children drink at college. I would have preferred supervision.”

At the end of her column, Kasdin explores the potential positives associated with an education and licensing program similar to the one [CR] has proposed. Check out the rest of her column and let us know what you think in the comments.

New SAMHSA Report on Drinking Among 12-20 Year-Olds

Monday, March 29th, 2010

A new report issued by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration indicates that more than a quarter – 27.6% – of young people age 12-20 consumed alcohol in the past month. The report draws this estimate from data compiled by the 2006-2008 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health.

Rates of past-month consumption among 12-20 year-olds were highest in North Dakota (40.6%) and Vermont (40.4%).

Check out SAMHSA’s press release for more details. The full report is available here (PDF).

[CR] Week in Review

Friday, March 26th, 2010

This week, the NIAAA announced a national campaign to promote town halls on the issue of underage drinking to coincide with the launch of Alcohol Awareness Week, which begins in April. Some town halls happened this week, and others will continue into the next month. Visit the NIAAA’s campaign site to find a town hall meeting in your community, and if you attend one of these meetings, let us know what you hear. Check out these headlines for the latest news from around the country:

Stories this week…

Brandon Busteed, the founder of the company that produces AlcoholEdu, an alcohol education program for college students, thinks high-risk drinking on college campuses may be improving. Read his article in the Chronicle of Higher Education and tell us if you agree.

Erik Hayden of Miller-McCune reported on a new study that explores the methods by which underage college students obtain fake IDs. The study also makes connections between fake ID usage and binge drinking.

The Centre Daily Times filed another report in its “Focus on Excessive Drinking” series with a recap of a panel discussion to reduce high-risk drinking at Penn State, which has been plagued by alcohol-related problems in recent months.

In other news:

Law enforcement officials in San Diego are learning how alcohol laws that intend to prohibit use can have some dangerous unintended consequences: a 2008 city ordinance banned alcohol consumption on public beaches, but the law did not prohibit drinking in the water just off the shore. Local beach-goers have created an event to get around the law called Floatopia, where thousands of people drink while floating on tubes and rafts just offshore. This year’s Floatopia event took place last weekend, and the event saw some dangerous behavior: 2 party-goers had to be hospitalized, and 12 were rescued by lifeguards after drinking too much and falling into the water.

Susan Essoyan of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin analyzed some recently-released data from the Hawaii Youth Risk Behavior Survey and found that between 2005 and 2009, rates of binge drinking and past month alcohol use among high school students increased. Though local officials said that the range of data is too small to describe a trend, the persistence of these problems is cause for concern.

A new study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology indicates that light and moderate drinking among adults may reduce the risk of heart disease, but the researchers cautioned that binge drinking can exacerbate heart health problems.

Did you see a newsworthy item that we missed in this week’s update? Leave us a link to the story in the comments.

KARE-TV on Alcohol Sales at UMN’s TCF Bank Stadium

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Last fall, the sale of alcohol at college football stadiums was a hot topic in the news. When the new TCF Bank Stadium was built to host the University of Minnesota’s football team, the school’s Board of Regents chose to ban all alcohol sales inside the stadium. That ban is now in the news again as Minnesota lawmakers are looking to allow for flexible, location-based alcohol sales inside the stadium that would replace the all-or-nothing policy currently in place. John Croman of KARE-TV noted that the Minnesota Senate bill under consideration intends to recoup lost funds for scholarship purposes.

Chris Littmann of the Sporting News wrote that he thought the ban was ineffective in the first place because it encouraged clandestine, pre-game drinking: “Drink or don’t drink, but I tend to think that banning alcohol as a whole from a venue just encourages ridiculous binge drinking by the student population prior to the game. Anyone who spent time on a college campus probably knows this to be true, even if they didn’t engage in it personally.”

What do you think? Let us know in the comments.

Iowa City Press Citizen: Public Intoxication Arrests Rising at Iowa Universities

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

Despite statewide efforts to curb binge drinking, including a proposed 21-only bar ordinance in Iowa City, public intoxication arrests “skyrocketed” over the past year at Iowa’s three public universities, according to Staci Hupp’s report in the Iowa City Press-Citizen.

These public intoxication arrests rose 11% at the University of Iowa and 66% at the University of Northern Iowa between 2008 and 2009. At Iowa State, they doubled during the same period. To get a more detailed look at the statistics, check out the full Press-Citizen article.

[CR] Week in Review

Friday, March 19th, 2010

In the past few weeks, government agencies have been warning U.S. college students about the dangers of Spring Break trips to Mexico. This week, the Associated Press and ABC News filed reports on travel advisories aimed at young adults. Have your friends and family members traveled abroad for Spring Break to evade Legal Age 21? Let us know by telling your story in the comments, and then check out the rest of these headlines.

Stories this week:

AlterNet contributor Shelly Rollison called Legal Age 21 “a band-aid over the real problem” of toxic drinking in her latest post. She wrote, “One of the best definitions of insanity I’ve ever heard is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results each time. The laws on underage drinking aren’t working. It’s not deterring kids from drinking: they’re just finding ways of doing it that aren’t likely to get them busted.”

Cary Carr, a Temple News commentator, collected stories of fellow students’ drunken mishaps and used them to illustrate the reality of alcohol consumption on her campus: “For a lot of college students, the weekend means partying, and partying involves drinking. Whether it is in a crowded basement reeking of cheap vodka and bodily fluids or at a bar with obnoxiously loud music and an even more obnoxiously growing tab, college kids are getting drunk.”

John Shelness of Des Moines, Iowa is not pleased with the direction of alcohol policies in his community. He responded to a Des Moines Register story about college binge drinking by sketching out the unintended consequences of enforcement crackdowns: “To fix the damage done to the lives of young adults by these overzealous regulators is simple. Reverse the failed policies that currently guide alcohol use for young adults. This neo-prohibitionist approach drives college students off campus and underground into dangerous and unregulated social settings where it is easier to buy, transport and hide hard liquor.”

In other news…

A coalition of departments and organizations at the University of Nevada – Reno is using grant money to develop late-night entertainment programs for students that will give them other options besides large parties that are focused on goal-oriented drinking.

Justin Graham, a resident of Evansville, IN, believes that the recent underage drinking raids conducted by the Indiana State Excise Police are counterproductive time-wasters: “Harm reduction efforts would be much more effective at alleviating the potential dangers of alcohol than heavy-handed enforcement that will ultimately never work. Even if it made sense to use the force of law to prevent young people from drinking, and even if it were at all possible to do so, a drinking age of 21 makes no sense whatsoever.” What do you think?

If we missed an important news item in this week’s update, leave us a tip in the comments section.

BC Gavel: Time to Reevaluate Legal Age 21

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

The editors of the BC Gavel, a progressive news organization at Boston College, seem to have been swayed by [CR] President John McCardell’s visit to campus last week. This morning, they endorsed a reconsideration of Legal Age 21:

“We cannot deny that the drinking age does affect a significant portion of the Boston College community as it forces many freshmen, sophomores, and even upperclassmen to ‘binge’ drink or ‘pregame’ behind closed doors because they cannot drink in controlled, socially healthy environments such as restaurants and sporting events…

…If alcohol consumption is seen as a natural part of life, instead of as something illicit and negative, then future generations will not see its abuse as a rite of passage. Rather, it would be a more seamless transition – not one necessitating the consumption of a life-threatening amount of alcohol.”

Check out the rest of the editorial and leave your feedback in the comments.

Tufts Daily: Alcohol and Spring Fling

Monday, March 15th, 2010

Tufts University administrators recently announced plans to eliminate all alcohol at the school’s annual Spring Fling event, according to Tufts Daily reporter Ellen Kan. The policy change was instituted as a direct reaction to last year’s event, which saw plenty of alcohol-related problems:

“This decision comes after a long discussion about possible policy changes to Spring Fling, partially prompted by last year’s event, which was declared a mass−casualty incident due to the high number of students requiring medical attention for alcohol poisoning.”

Not all students and community members are convinced that the ban will work to reduce binge drinking, however. One Tufts senior told the Daily, “Students aren’t going to stop drinking just because the university isn’t allowing it to happen.” Wicked Local Somerville contributer Meghann Ackermann argued that the change may simply shift the location and intensity of the drinking prior to the event: “I’d be willing to put a fair amount of money on the likelihood that a lot of people will be showing up to Spring Fling already tanked.”

What do you think? Let us know in the comments.

[CR] Week in Review

Friday, March 12th, 2010

On Wednesday, [CR] President John McCardell traveled to Boston College to debate the drinking age with James Fell of the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation and a panel of campus administrators. He told BC Heights reporter Carrie McMahon that “cultural attitudes change over time. And current policy for the drinking age has locked us into the culture of 1984.” Speaking of [CR] events, next Wednesday, John McCardell will participate in an online webinar for college health professionals sponsored by Screening for Mental Health’s College Response program. If you’d like to take part, please register for National Alcohol Screening Day – you’ll receive access to the webinar next week and a package of other helpful materials. And if you’re interested in bringing a [CR] representative to your campus this spring, please e-mail us. In the meantime, check out these headlines for the latest news from around the country.

Stories this week:

Tuscon Citizen contributor Carolyn Classen believes it may be time to consider a lower drinking age that would bring the consumption of alcohol by 18-20 year-olds out of the shadows. She wrote, “I am advocating the choice of being able to drink alcohol, which can be done in moderation in the privacy of one’s home, or not at all– if you choose not to drink for religious or health reasons. And I don’t think anyone should drink over the legal limit & drive a motor vehicle. It would certainly eliminate the sneaking around and binge drinking that American college students go through to drink alcohol for 3 years before they turn 21.”

Marc Ferris of the Fairfield Weekly offered a blunt statement on the difficulties of enforcing Legal Age 21 in his article on local binge drinking incidents: “Trying to stop underage drinking among college students is like shoveling sand against the tide.”

Drake University Times-Delphic columnist Ryan Price doesn’t think Legal Age 21 is working very well. Why did he choose to take up the issue? “The reason I am writing about the drinking age today is because I am worried about the friends we have taken care of after they drink to oblivion. I am writing because I appreciate our peers’ health. I am writing because I want to see mature handling of alcohol in our society. I am writing because we can kill others for our country, but we can’t have a beer as we write research papers on the complexities of pharmaceutical drugs, business ethics or quantum physics.”

In other news…

Maryland lawmakers have ruled out an increase in the state’s per-drink alcohol tax to fund services for addiction treatment programs and other initiatives, according to the Washington Post.

Iowa City’s proposed 21-only ordinance for local bars has the community buzzing. The University of Iowa’s Faculty council has endorsed the plan, but Daily Iowan columnist Beau Elliot and the paper’s editorial board argue that the proposal won’t do much to change behavior. What do you think?

Remember: today is the last day of voting on Change.org, so help us crack the 1,000 vote barrier before the contest closes!

Des Moines Register: Campuses Urged to Stress Perils of Binge Drinking

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

Several Iowa college campuses have struggled with alcohol-related incidents during this academic year, from a near-death and sexual assaults at Drake University to record-high hospitalizations at the University of Iowa. Last night, a panel of local addiction prevention experts met to discuss the issue of binge drinking in higher education, according to a report in the Des Moines Register. One participant, a juvenile court intake supervisor, said that in many cases the problem begins before students arrive at college, since consumption of hard liquor by underage drinkers is on the rise locally.

Check out Tyler O’Neil’s article in the Register and let us know what you think in the comments.