Archive for June, 2009

[CR] President John McCardell in the Roanoke Times

Monday, June 29th, 2009

Greg Esposito of the Roanoke Times recently interviewed [CR] President John McCardell for the second installment of the Times‘ “Under 21” series, which focuses on the issues of underage and toxic drinking on local college campuses. The in-depth interview (which includes video) is available here, and you can also check out part one to get up to speed on the series.

[CR] Week in Review

Friday, June 26th, 2009

Major preparations are underway for Choose Responsibility’s appearances at the upcoming ALEC and NCSL conferences in Atlanta and Philadelphia. Here in our Washington office, we’re starting to pull together some new materials and different technologies that will allow us to make the most of these two events. Remember, you can help us get there – join our fundraising campaign on to find out how. If you’re able to raise $100 by July 15th, we’ll send you a free [CR] t-shirt just to say thanks. Here are the latest headlines from around the country:

Stories this week:

Alex Ebert of the Minneapolis Star Tribune wrote about the University of Minnesota’s new policy that bans all alcohol sales at the new TCF Stadium. Interestingly, the news received a mixed reaction from the Star Tribune’s readership: Gina Stocks of Edina, MN, wrote, “Perhaps Minnesota could choose to be a leader in encouraging people to make responsible choices in an equitable environment. It seems to me that binge drinking and alcohol availability at the stadium are two very separate issues. As a parent, I believe that the former should be the one the U concerns itself with, not the latter.” What do you think of the new policy? Is the alcohol ban a good idea, or will the policy encourage more binge drinking prior to games?

More letters to the editor this week: Taylor Blackwell wrote to the Chicago-area Daily Herald about the “massive failure” that is Legal Age 21. Blackwell would rather see parents have the opportunity to educate their young adults in a meaningful way: “Let parents teach their kids moderation while they are still at home. It’s almost impossible to contain it using law enforcement. The harder police crack down, the farther underground they drive it.”

We’re not in a position to offer comment on Carlos Watson’s recent health care proposal at The Stimulist, but we certainly agree with his reasoning on the drinking age: “In short, it is high time that the U.S. got with the rest of the world not just on universal health care, but a sensible drinking age. This ‘new era of responsibility’ demands nothing less.”

In other news…

Dr. Neil Bernstein’s column in the Wednesday edition of the Washington Examiner highlights the difficulties parents have in trying to teach their young adults about responsible alcohol consumption under Legal Age 21. After all, if parents “loosen the reins a bit,” they’re condoning lawbreaking behavior. Perhaps it’s time to consider a change so that parents won’t have to send mixed messages about alcohol?

Check out the Charlotte Observer‘s report on a recent teen health survey done in North Carolina – the results indicate that binge drinking is on the rise.

Did we miss something in this week’s updates? Leave us a link in the comments if you have a news story to share.

Salinas Californian: 21 Doesn’t Work

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

Maria de la Garma, a community columnist with the Salincas Californian, published a column called “Time Has Come For Lower Drinking Age” in this past Saturday’s edition of the paper. In her article, de la Garma concludes with a strong point about the age of majority: “full adulthood equals full rights. If the state recognizes an 18-year-old as a full adult, then he/she should be treated as such.” Check out the rest of her column and let us know what you think.

[CR] Week in Review

Friday, June 19th, 2009

Early this week, the NIAAA released updated statistics that show an increase in binge drinking and alcohol-related non-traffic deaths among the 18-24 age population from 1998 to 2005. These new numbers clearly indicate that our current approach to alcohol education isn’t working – the problems continue to get worse despite millions of dollars spent on prevention campaigns. When asked for comment, [CR] President John McCardell told Inside Higher Ed‘s Stephanie Lee that in light of these increases, “it’s hard for me to say that a law that says you may not drink until you’re 21 can be deemed successful.” Here are some other noteworthy news items from the week, many of which reference these statistics:

Stories this week:

Following up on his article called “Teach Drinking” in the latest issue of The Atlantic, Dr. McCardell joined Air America’s Ron Reagan for a segment on The Ron Reagan Show Thursday night. You can listen to the segment in the Air America archives (subscription required – look for the 6/18/09 full show).

Wendy Melillo, a contributor at MediaPost and an Assistant Professor at American University’s School of Communication, wrote a blunt summary of many college students’ attitudes about alcohol in the introduction to her article about a new responsible drinking campaign at Syracuse University: “When the adults finally shut up and asked college students what would solve the problem of binge drinking on college campuses, they got revealing answers. No federal law will stop us from drinking alcohol, students said. What we need is to be taught to drink responsibly — so we don’t do something stupid.” Read the rest of her article for the details on the new program at Syracuse.

Did you catch the coverage of SUNY Stony Brook’s Red Watch Band in USA Today earlier in the week? If not, it’s available here.

In other news…

Via the Associated Press, the Miami Herald reported on a new study performed by researchers at the Florida Department of Children and Families which highlights the economic costs of underage drinking in Florida. Could you have guessed that underage drinking costs the state a total of $3 billion annually, including $316 million just to deal with violent crime committed by underage drinkers?

In another Inside Higher Ed piece, Stephanie Lee wrote about new efforts by college administrators to tame heavy Thursday night drinking by adjusting class schedules. These strategies emerged as a result of a 2008 study conducted at Loyola University in Maryland which showed that “students without Friday classes reported drinking an average of 3.38 drinks the day before, roughly four times more than those with a Friday class before 10 a.m.”

Did you catch something that we missed? Leave a link in the comments.

Hartford Courant’s iTowns: Rethinking Drinking

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

Jim Farrell of the Hartford Courant‘s iTowns blog for Manchester and East Hartford wrote a post this week called “Rethinking Underage Drinking,” and in it, he discussed some potential alternatives to Legal Age 21. He believes his proposal, which would lower the drinking age to 18 for bars, restaurants, and sanctioned events, would make it less likely that young adults would “have their first (and second, and third, and fourth …) drinks during an endless game of beer pong in the basement of some unsupervised off-campus apartment and wind up drowning in their own puke.” What do you think of his proposal? Read the rest of the post and leave a note in the comments.

[CR] President John McCardell in The Atlantic

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

[CR] President John McCardell has published a new piece in the “Ideas: Fixing the World” section of the July/August issue of The Atlantic. In his essay, he wrote that our current approach to alcohol education “has been about as effective as a parachute that opens on the second bounce.” If you haven’t had a chance to pick up a hard copy of the magazine, you can read the rest of his essay here.

Red Watch Band in USA Today

Monday, June 15th, 2009

Over the weekend, Jillian Berman of USA Today spoke to Jenny Hwang, an Associate Dean at Stony Brook University, about the school’s Red Watch Band program. Nearly 100 schools across the country have expressed an interest in the project, which provides students with CPR and alcohol-related emergency training. “Our students absolutely need to know how to stay alive, and we need to be doing something to equip them and empower them to create a culture where they can look out for each other and care about each other,” Hwang said.

[CR] Week in Review

Friday, June 12th, 2009

Want to help [CR] design some new, catchy stickers that you can put on your cars and pass out to your friends? Remember to cast your vote in our sticker survey – some of you may recognize the old design from [CR] volunteer packs, but we’re considering a new look. Let us know which one you like best. Here’s the latest round-up of [CR] headlines from around the country:

Stories this week:

[CR] President John McCardell was a guest on “The Say Anything Show” with Rob Port on WZFG-AM in Fargo, North Dakota on Tuesday night. You can listen to the segment here – look for the 6/9/09 program in the audio player. Dr. McCardell joins Rob about 31:00 into the show.

What sparked Dr. McCardell’s appearance on the Say Anything show, you ask? Newly-released data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health indicates that North Dakota has the highest rates of binge and underage drinking in the nation – the Bismarck Tribune reported that “40 percent of North Dakotans ages 12 to 20 had at least one drink during the month before the survey was taken.” In addition, 32% of North Dakotans over the age of 12 engaged in binge drinking in the month before the survey. The numbers were collected in 2006 and 2007, and USA Today has lists of the highest and lowest-ranked states for both binge and underage drinking.

Creston News Advertiser columnist Tyler Ellyson wrote about the drinking age debate this week, and at the end of his column, he asked a simple question: “Why not give the citizens who are mature enough to vote and fight overseas a chance to prove their maturity when it comes to alcohol?”

The Albany Times Union reported earlier this week that Siena College in Loudonville, NY is now among a group of 60 colleges in 22 states that have decided to implement the Red Watch Band program next fall. The anti-binge drinking program, which began at Stony Brook University, aims to educate students about the dangers of reckless drinking and the signs of alcohol poisoning. (Scroll down on the Times Union link for the full story.)

In other news…

Did you catch the Washington Post story about a nationwide collegiate advertising contest intended to get students to think more about the dangers of binge drinking? If not, you can read about the participants and the contest here.

From the Journal of Mixed Methods Research comes new evidence that binge drinking is a serious problem for members of the armed services. A new study on the U.S. Navy suggested that the culture of the Navy workplace can contribute to higher rates of dangerous drinking among enlisted members than civilians. Clearly, a new approach to alcohol education is necessary if we hope to make a positive impact on young servicemembers.

Did we miss something? Let us know in the comments.

Washington Post: Anti-Binge Drinking Ad Contest

Monday, June 8th, 2009

Susan Kinzie wrote about a nationwide anti-binge drinking ad contest in the Saturday edition of the Washington Post. Teams from 142 colleges and universitiies across the country competed to see who could come up with the most clever, effective ad campaign to remind college students about the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption. Kinzie noted that some recent ad campaigns have experienced limited success: “binge drinking by college students has changed very little over the past couple of decades, despite millions of dollars in advertising and countless other efforts to combat it.” Perhaps it’s time to consider some legislative changes that would take a new approach to alcohol education and work in concert with new campaigns to reduce binge drinking. After all, one local student said that the prohibition message just doesn’t work: “Telling college students not to drink is like telling sheep not to go ‘Baa.'” What do you think?

[CR] Week in Review

Friday, June 5th, 2009

Today’s post starts with a disclaimer: regular author Nick DeSantis is away this week. His keen eye for updates and new perspectives from around the country will be missed as this humble replacement struggles to fill his shoes. If you haven’t done so already, make sure to vote on your favorite [CR] sticker. We’re running low on our stock of stickers and need your help deciding on a new design.

Stories this week:

Newspaper series and features on binge drinking and the drinking age debate seem to be prevalent right now, likely due to heightened concern in many communities about alcohol and high school graduation season. The Memphis Commercial Appeal continued this trend with an editorial, reporter’s analysis, and series of op-ed essays on the drink age debate last Sunday. Both the editorial and the analysis argued for a serious debate about the effectiveness of Legal Age 21 that looks at all the consequences of the law, especially those off the highways.

Another installment of the Roanoke Times “Under 21” series appeared online in the form of an online reader’s forum on Legal Age 21 that was active on their website last week. You can read the dialogue here. The forum includes nearly 500 posts so far–a clear demonstration that this is a hot topic in the Roanoke area.

In other news…

For some Friday afternoon amusement, be sure to check out this post on bizarre alcohol laws from around the country. Who knew that it was illegal to open a tab at a bar in Iowa, or to use the word “refreshing” in alcohol promotions? Certainly not us! Check out the story—you just might learn something about your state.

Michelob has drawn harsh criticism from some groups for its newest advertising venue: Twitter. The brand is the first of Anheuser-Busch’s holdings to use the rapidly expanding social networking site as an advertising tool, but many other beer, wine and spirits companies have created Twitter accounts to send frequent updates to their fans. George Hacker of CSPI, a group that argues for more stringent restrictions on alcohol advertising, commented in an Ad Age story on the topic that, “Twitter is for kids, and this is just another way to put brand names in their faces.” By one estimate, over 70% of Twitter users are over age 21, but despite Michelob’s best efforts to verify that its followers are over 21 there’s little assurance that their tweets are only reaching those who can legally purchase one of their products.

Have we missed something in this week’s update? Let us know in the comments.