Archive for October, 2009

[CR] Week in Review

Friday, October 30th, 2009

The issues of binge drinking and the drinking age continue to be hot topics on college campuses as the fall semester moves forward. [CR] President John McCardell was in Maine this week for a debate at Colby College – for Thursday night’s event, he debated David Rosenbloom, President of the National Center for Addiction and Substance Abuse. In a few weeks, he’ll travel south for an event at the University of Kentucky – we’ll keep you posted on those details as the date approaches. For now, here’s the latest roundup of major headlines and news items:

Stories this week:

Lawmakers in Puerto Rico, where the legal drinking age is 18, have voted to adopt one of the lowest legal limits for drunk driving in the world. The House of Representatives voted to lower the blood alcohol limit from .08 to .02 – far lower than any U.S. state, and equal to the limit in Sweden, which has enforced a .02 limit since 1990. One local lawmaker commented that he thought the change was too strict, and would rather see Puerto Rico raise its drinking age to 21. What are your thoughts on the change?

If you missed Kevin Kittredge’s latest piece in the Roanoke Times detailing the way Legal Age 21 has driven social life off campus at many Virginia colleges, you can check it out here.

Tyler Machado, a contributor to the Naked Opinion journal at Saint Michael’s College, offered his take on [CR]’s Get REAL campaign and the drinking culture on campus in the latest issue, arguing,

“The simple truth is that current alcohol policies at St. Michael’s have done nothing to curb alcohol abuse on this campus.  Even with the looming threats of being sent to ACT1 for a night or banished to Senior Hall for a weekend, unhealthy binge drinking still happens among students, underage and of legal age alike.  In reality, current alcohol policies encourage underage students to drink highly alcoholic drinks as fast as possible so that security/police/Student Life won’t find anything to bust them for.  This, of course, is also the most dangerous way to drink and contributes to most of the alcohol problems on this campus.”

The Albany Times Union publishes a blog for high school journalists in its education section, and this week, Jennifer Korszun tackled the issue of the drinking age. She argued that Legal Age 21 has created an unsafe environment for young adults: “Prohibiting teens from drinking in public only forces them to drink in environments without supervision and increases the chances of binge drinking.  Drinking in moderation forces maturity upon people.” What are your thoughts on her column?

In other news…

A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments today in a case dealing with alcohol advertising in college newspapers. Under current law, Virginia’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control bans all alcohol advertisements in student newspapers. In 2007, the student newspapers at the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech sued to reverse the ban, arguing that it infringes on their free speech rights. A local magistrate overturned the ban, and the state Attorney General’s office appealed the decision.

The Cornell Daily Sun published another article this week outlining the immediate effects of Legal Age 21 on Cornell students after the drinking age was increased to 21 in New York back in 1985. Writer Jasmine Marcus included a comment from state Senator Suzi Oppenheimer, who indicated the federal highway funding penalty forced her vote: “I’m against it, but I voted for it. You can’t ignore millions of dollars in federal highway funds. But it’s a bad law. It breeds disrespect for the law. The youngsters will continue to drink. It’s just another law that will be ignored.”

Join Together announced this week that the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has published its latest update to the Alcohol Policy Information System, an online database of state-by-state alcohol policies. Check out the announcement to read about the 22 state-level changes instituted in the year ending January 1, 2009.

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

Elon Pendulum on Get REAL

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

Rebecca Smith, a staff writer for the student-run newspaper The Pendulum at Elon College, recently spoke to Get REAL signatory Justin Peterson about his rationale for joining the group of student body presidents calling for open discussions about campus alcohol policies. When asked to elaborate on his decision, Peterson said,

“The thing that made me make up my mind was realizing (my) role is not to represent the administration, but my role is to represent the students. I feel this is what the students want…I think that alcohol and how to promote smart behavior and a safe environment should always be discussed. Elon is doing a lot in order to encourage smart behavior on campus.”

Would you like to see your student government president join this campaign? Visit our Get REAL page to learn more about how you can get involved.

Roanoke Times: 21 Pushes Parties Off Campus

Monday, October 26th, 2009

Over the weekend, Roanoke Times writer Kevin Kittredge explored one of the major consequences of Legal Age 21: the high drinking age has pushed the consumption of alcohol at several Virginia colleges off campus, and into environments where toxic drinking is much more difficult to control. Kittredge interviewed one Washington & Lee student who said, “It’s definitely easier for people who are underage to go to parties out in the county. I guess there are really no authority figures out there.” Read the rest of the article to find out how administrators at Virginia colleges are attempting to work with law enforcement officials to rectify this problem.

[CR] Week in Review

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week 2009 has come to a close, but Choose Responsibility’s new Get REAL initiative for student body presidents is just getting started. If you’re a student body president and you’d like to get involved in this campaign to encourage safe behavior and frank conversations about alcohol on your campus, visit our Get REAL page to learn more about how you can get involved. You can also read our official launch announcement here, and check out coverage of Get REAL at The Desert Lamp, a student-run blog at the University of Arizona. Desert Lamp contributor Evan Lisull penned a letter to his student body president urging him to get involved, and you can use his form letter to write a note to the student body president on your campus. If you have questions about the new campaign, feel free to e-mail us – otherwise, here are the latest headlines from around the country to get your weekend started:

Stories this week:

Mark your calendars if you live in central Maine: next Thursday, [CR] President John McCardell will debate David Rosenbloom, the President of the National Center for Addiction and Substance Abuse, on October 29th at 7:00 PM in the Diamond Building’s Ostrove Auditorium. Waldo County’s Village Soup calendar has all the details if you’d like to attend.

Student-athletes at Geneseo State University have launched a campus-wide effort to fight binge drinking, which was created in response to the alcohol poisoning death of a Geneseo State freshman last year. Sean Kennedy, the captain of Geneseo State’s swim team, outlined the details of the new Anti-Alcohol Abuse Statement this week as he stood together with his teammates and members of the campus community. Livingston County District Attorney Tom Moran called the effort a move in the right direction: “If there’s something that we have to change, it’s probably the behavior that they’re afraid to intervene when somebody’s drinking too much. And this is a good step, a really good step towards saying that that kind of intervention is the right thing to do.”

Support for the medical amnesty bill currently under consideration in the Michigan legislature continues to pile up: the editorial boards of the Lansing State Journal and the Battle Creek Enquirer both endorsed the proposal this week.

In other news:

Following up on recent events at Penn State University, Anne Danahy of the Centre Daily Times covered last night’s Student Rally for Campus Safety, which was organized by the University Park Undergraduate Association. The rally was organized as a way to get students engaged in efforts to curb binge drinking, sexual assault, and other campus safety issues.

The editors of the Lacrosse Tribune in Wisconsin tackled a number of alcohol-related issues in last Sunday’s editorial, including new taxation policies and ignition interlock proposals. Check out their thoughts on those issues and let us know what you think.

Speaking of Wisconsin, the Associated Press has an update on a proposed bill in the state legislature that would prevent anyone under the age of 18 from consuming alcohol in a bar or restaurant while supervised by their parents. The current law allows people of any age to drink in a bar under parental supervision. The bill has passed out of committee in the state Senate, and Assembly legislators await the results of their own committee vote. What are your thoughts on this change?

If we missed a story this week, let us know by leaving a link in the comments section, and help us spread the world about Get REAL as this new movement gets underway.

[CR] Launches Get REAL Initiative for Student Body Presidents

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week has arrived, and with it, Choose Responsibility has launched a new initiative for student government presidents across the country. Our Get REAL campaign encourages Responsibility, Education, and Leadership on campus alcohol issues, and will bring together student government leaders so that they can have a meaningful impact on the direction of alcohol policies. If you’re a student government president and you’re frustrated by the culture of toxic drinking at your school, you can join together with your colleagues to make your voice heard.

[CR] President John McCardell and Get REAL signatory Brody Leven of Westminster College both commented on the launch in our press release – read the official announcement here.

If you’re interested in learning more, check out the Get REAL page to read the signing statement and see which student government presidents have joined the movement so far. If you’d like to send a Get REAL link to your SGA President or your contacts on Facebook and Twitter, use this link:

Help us reach your student government presidents by letting them know about this new campaign, and if you have questions, let us know in the comments.

Lansing State Journal: Amesty Could Save Lives

Monday, October 19th, 2009

In their Monday morning editorial, the editors of the Lansing State Journal in Michigan offered their support for the current medical amnesty bill that is working its way through the state legislature. They wrote,

“East Lansing police officials said they have, in practice, avoided MIP prosecutions when medical help has been sought. But they can’t pursue a formal written policy unless the law is changed.

MSU student groups support the change, as does the Student Association of Michigan, which represents student government at most of the 15 public universities.

HB 4786 passed the Judiciary Committee unanimously. It deserves to move as quickly as possible through the legislative process.”

What do you think of this amnesty proposal? Let us know in the comments.

[CR] Week in Review

Friday, October 16th, 2009

This week was a busy one for [CR] representatives, as they traveled to participate in debates at several schools around the country. If you’d like to read some reviews of the events, check out Kelsey Heckel’s Daily Toreador article covering the Texas Tech debate between [CR] President John McCardell and William DeJong of the Boston University School of Public Health. In Virginia, WHSV-TV’s Mary Pulley covered the debate at Bridgewater College between [CR] Board Member Barrett Seaman and James Fell of the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation – her story has video here. For the rest of this week’s news, check out these headlines:

Stories this week:

If you’re a parent who would like to read a compelling take on the need for a new approach to alcohol education, read Marsha Sutton’s recent column in the Carmel Valley News.

Since the beginning of the academic year, we’ve seen a number of reports about increased alcohol-related problems on college campuses, and this week brought two more disturbing stories: read John Surico’s column in the NYU News to learn about a recent e-mail sent by school administrators who were alarmed by a spike in alcohol-related hospitalizations, and WRAL-TV’s story about increases in alcohol-related arrests and alcohol poisonings on the UNC Chapel Hill campus.

As we noted yesterday, Josh Akman reviewed DC-area colleges and their positions on the Amethyst Initiative for the Washington City Paper. Read his article to find out where your institution stands on the issue.

Albany Times Union blogger George de Piro called Legal Age 21 an “outrageous hypocrisy” in a strongly-worded post on Monday. He wrote, “Would any good parent ever toss their 16 year-old a set of car keys without going to great lengths to teach them about driving and all the responsibilities that come with it?  Of course not.  So why do so many think it prudent to keep their children sheltered from alcohol and then send them off blindly into a world where drinking has such an important social role?”

In other news…

Do you ever wonder what life on a college campus was like during the Prohibition era? Michelle Honor provided a short history lesson in a mid-week article for the Cornell Sun, which described how students responded to the change in the law by “sneaking liquor into their homes and parties.” College students: does that behavior sound familiar?

Brad Soroka of WLUC-TV in Michigan reported on Wednesday that an amnesty bill in Michigan exempting underage drinkers from prosecution when calling 911 for medical help passed in a unanimous 13-0 House Committee vote. The bill will soon head to the full House. WWML-TV reporters visited a local campus to speak to students about the measure, and their report noted, “Everyone we spoke to said they had been in a bad situation at a party, and felt afraid to call 911 because they were underage.”

School officials in Foxborough, MA will implement a new prevention initiative that allows administrators to use breath tests on students who are suspected of consuming alcohol during the school day. Some members of the community support the new measures, while others say it goes too far – Sarah Wunsch of the ACLU of Massachusetts told the Boston Globe that the policy could “drive them away from places where there are parents observing them.” What’s your take on this measure?

If we’ve missed something in this week’s update, send us a link in the comments section.

Washington City Paper on DC Colleges and the Amethyst Initiative

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

If you’re a DC-area college student and you’d like to know where your school’s president stands on the Amethyst Initiative, Josh Akman wrote a review of local schools’ positions in a Wednesday post for the Washington City Paper‘s “City Desk” blog. To conclude his post, Akman wrote,

“Binge drinking is a significant and growing problem on college campuses.  And being a dry campus, though maybe ideal, does not absolve any school from its responsibility in stemming the tide of the binge drinking epidemic that has enveloped college life.”

What do you think of Akman’s take on the issue? Let us know in the comments.

Carmel Valley News: Rethinking a Failed Approach

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

Marsha Sutton, an education writer for the Carmel Valley News in California, tackled the issue of the legal drinking age in her column over the weekend. In her piece, she expressed her belief that policies focused on prohibition and scare tactics are not working:

“Too many lives are at risk each minute that we deny the obvious. When children die senseless deaths, it just takes our breath away. We have to find an effective way to help kids navigate this perilous path, and we must present our case in ways they’ll be receptive to. And strict prohibition or lies about consequences aren’t cutting it.”

Visit the San Diego News Network to read her whole column – it’s a worthwhile read for any parent who would like to learn about the challenges and difficulties posed by Legal Age 21.

[CR] Week in Review

Friday, October 9th, 2009

If you’re interested in seeing a [CR] representative come to your area to speak about the drinking age, there are a few opportunities to do so next week. On Thursday, [CR] President John McCardell will travel to Lubbock, Texas to debate Bill DeJong of the Boston University School of Public Health at Texas Tech. Meanwhile, on the same day, [CR] Board Member Barry Seaman will debate James Fell of the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation at Bridgewater College in Virginia. If you’re in one of those areas, both events should prove to be engaging and informative. To get your Columbus Day weekend started, here are this week’s headlines from around the country:

Stories this week:

This morning, Jacqueline Stenson wrote a feature on the Red Watch Band program at Stony Brook University for the Health section of Lara Hunter, the program’s national coordinator, said that its main focus is “death prevention.”

Two regional papers offered snapshots of increased enforcement and zero tolerance policies on college campuses this week – check out Tonia Moxley’s report in the Roanoke Times to get a sense of how these policies work in Virginia, and read about the Providence police force’s uphill battle against toxic drinking near Providence College in Rhode Island.

Over the weekend, James Tyree of The Oklahoman wrote about the five-year anniversary of the alcohol poisoning death of OU student Blake Hammontree and the struggles that the University still faces in trying to get these problems under control.

The recent alcohol-related incidents at Penn State University have sparked some important conversations: soon after Managing Editor Terry Casey wrote about the importance of responsible drinking in his Monday column, the editors of Penn State’s Daily Collegian offered their support to a proposal by the University Park Undergraduate Association that would push for a campus-wide medical amnesty policy.

In other news…

Wendy Norris, a freelancer for the reproductive health website RH Reality Check, wrote about new efforts on college campuses to implement rape prevention strategies through alcohol awareness initiatives. Check out her article to read about these new programs at Colorado University and some other schools.

Late this week, Join Together covered the results of a recent survey done by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety that found widespread support for ignition interlock technologies as a strategy to prevent drunk driving. What do you think of interlock technology?

Prevention groups in Oregon are calling for the clothing retailer Old Navy to pull some controversial items from its shelves – t-shirts that are emblazoned with sayings such as “Beer Pressure: Worth Giving In To!” Oregon Partnership believes Old Navy’s customer base is too young to be purchasing these shirts, which were marketed with a sale price of $5.

A reminder: the [CR] offices will be closed on Monday, October 12th in observance of the Columbus Day holiday. Enjoy your weekend!