Archive for November, 2009

NPR: Reining in Tailgate Parties a Challenge for Colleges

Monday, November 30th, 2009

Over the weekend, Greg Allen of NPR’s “Weekend Edition Saturday” continued the recent trend of media interest in the connection between college sports and alcohol with a story about the pressures that college officials face in their attempts to curb dangerous drinking at sporting events. He discussed various efforts at the University of Florida to reduce underage drinking, but noted that administrators sometimes run into resistance from alumni groups, who return to campus to participate in tailgating events. Allen also spoke with Traci Toomey, a professor at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health who is currently conducting research which will measure alcohol consumption among tailgaters.

Check out the audio of the story here and let us know what you think in the comments.

It’s that time of year again

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

With open season on holiday shopping in full swing (or just around the corner for some of us), [CR] has a special offer for all of our supporters–lower prices on all [CR] gear. For a suggested donation of just $12, including shipping, we are offering our eyecatching American Apparel shirts and hats. Our [CR] branded water bottles are on sale for just $5.

Stop by the [CR] Store and purchase a hat, t-shirt, or water bottle–or a few of each! In addition to helping you and everyone on your shopping list look cool, all proceeds from your [CR] gear purchase go to support Choose Responsibility’s efforts to promote informed debate on the 21 year-old drinking age.

Bowling Green Daily News Covers Get REAL

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

Over the weekend, Joanie Baker Hendricks of the Bowling Green Daily News spoke to Kevin Smiley, the student body president at Western Kentucky University, who recently signed on to [CR]’s Get REAL campaign. The discrepancy between the age of majority and Legal Age 21 motivated Smiley to sign on:

“Smiley said he thinks the law needs to be revisited because it keeps 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds – who can legally serve in the military, vote and marry – from making an adult decision.

‘There’s an issue of fairness in that,’ Smiley said. ‘There’s legitimate questions in that, why is 21 different?””

Check out the rest of the article to read comments from Western Kentucky students, and be sure to let your student government president know about Get REAL so that they can sign on.

[CR] Week in Review

Friday, November 20th, 2009

As we approach the holiday season, it’s important to remember that this time of year sees heavy traffic on the roads and higher risks for drunken driving accidents. In order to combat these problems, lawmakers in New York passed some tough new legislation that will require installation of ignition interlocks in the vehicles of convicted drunk drivers. The new law also makes it a felony to drive drunk with a child inside the vehicle. For more details on this new legislation, check out the stories in the New York Times and on CBS News, and then catch up on these other headlines:

Stories this week:

The relationship between college sports and alcohol consumption has been a popular topic in the news this fall, and Pat Borzi of the New York Times continued the trend this week with a story about the University of Minnesota’s ongoing efforts to curb game day binge drinking. Check out the Times’ “Well” blog to discuss this story with other readers.

Speaking of college sports and alcohol consumption, Tonia Moxley of the Roanoke Times covered a similar story using the Virginia Tech campus as a backdrop. Read it here in case you missed it earlier this week.

Students at Ohio State are coming together with administrators and community members to discuss a difficult and sometimes controversial issue: the relationship between law enforcement officials and the student body, which Lantern writer Leah Fricke said is characterized by “broken trust.” The members of a new campus group, Raising Issues and Taking Action, have drafted a proposal that “points to five main consequences of the current minimum drinking age: a negative relationship between students and police officers, a higher rate of binge drinking, a higher rate of taking dangerous roads and alleys when inebriated to avoid contact with police officers, a distraction for police officers away from more serious crimes, and students’ lack of reliance on police officers in times of emergency.” The group’s executive board is now working to organize events with campus safety groups and local police officers.

In other news…

After last week’s story of a near-tragedy at Drake University comes news of a similar incident this week at the University of Arkansas. A resident advisor sought medical assistance for a UA first-year student who attended a fraternity party and was later found to have a BAC of .68 – more than eight times the legal limit for intoxication. Administrators have suspended all activities at the fraternity in question pending the results of an investigation.

Brian Willoughby and a team of researchers at the University of Minnesota-St. Paul have published a study in the Journal of American College Health that explores the connection between on-campus living arrangements and drinking patterns. According to the new study, students living in co-ed dorms are 2.5 times more likely to drink to excess on a weekly basis than their peers living in single-sex dorms. Some other researchers were not persuaded by these results: William DeJong of the Boston University School of Public Health told USA Today, “Given the choice, only certain types of students would consider living in a coed residence hall, and the fact that they might be more ‘libertine’ than other students is hardly surprising.” What’s your take on this new research?

Let us know what you think of these stories in the comments, and leave a note if we missed something this week.

PSU Daily Collegian: Drinking Age a Worthy Debate

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

The editors of Penn State’s student newspaper, the Daily Collegian, recently took on the issue of the drinking age, saying that they would “like to see serious dialogue about the merits of the drinking age of 21.” Their editorial concludes,

“Stricter enforcement, better treatment and more education are old remedies for an old problem. If students, community members and faculty are serious about addressing Penn State’s drinking problem, it’s time to take action and explore new frontiers. No matter how out of reach that change might seem, we’ve got to start somewhere.”

Have the administrators at your school hosted productive conversations about binge drinking and the legal drinking age? Tell us about them in the comments.

Roanoke Times: “Under 21” on College Sports and Drinking

Monday, November 16th, 2009

Over the weekend, Tonia Moxley of the Roanoke Times published another installment of the paper’s “Under 21” series, which discusses the issues of underage and toxic drinking on college campuses in Virginia. This week’s installment, “Paying the Price for Drinking,” traces the connection between college sports and heavy drinking by examining the large number of public intoxication citations that are issued before and after football games at Virginia Tech. Moxley noted that “About 800 Tech and Radford University students cited by local police for underage possession go through the state’s Alcohol Safety Action Program in Christiansburg each year.”

The director of Virginia’s ASAP program, Susan Marchon, told the Times, “We see more alcohol-related charges coming out of football games than any other sport. It’s not the fault of football; it’s just the social expectation.”

What’s your take on the connection between college sports and heavy drinking? Let us know in the comments.

[CR] Week in Review

Friday, November 13th, 2009

Two on-campus events provided bookends for [CR] activities this week, as board member Barrett Seaman participated in a debate at Ohio State University and President John McCardell took part in a similar event at the University of Kentucky. If you’d like a review of those events with comments from the [CR] participants, check out the wrap-up articles in The Lantern and the Kentucky Kernel. For the rest of the week’s news, dive into these headlines:

Stories this week:

In case you missed it earlier this week, read Toledo Blade columnist Tom Walton’s endorsement of the Red Watch Band program at Stony Brook University in his Monday column.

Megan Stiles, an opinion columnist with the Cavalier Daily at the University of Virginia, discussed what she called the “civil disobedience” that many underage students practice when they break the law by consuming alcohol. She distinguished between the drinking habits of older and younger students, arguing that Legal Age 21 creates an environment where toxic drinking is likely to occur: “The underage person most likely has limited access to alcohol — whenever there is a party or they can find someone to buy them alcohol. This can lead to binge drinking — because these students have less access to alcohol, there is more of an incentive to consume great amounts during the few times they have access.”

M.W. Guzy is a retired police officer and a columnist with the St. Louis Beacon who believes that the current legal drinking age isn’t working. Read his latest column to find out why.

In other news…

Throughout the week, writers for the Times-Delphic at Drake University have covered the story of a first-year student who narrowly avoided tragedy when his friends realized that he had consumed too much alcohol and sought medical assistance. The student was admitted to a local hospital with a BAC of .50, approximately six times the legal limit for drunk driving, after a night of hazing rituals in an unofficial fraternity house.

The University of Iowa Student Government will soon sponsor a tailgating event for the first time, and student leaders are working together with administrators and members of the University’s Alcohol Steering Committee to create a safe environment for the consumption of alcohol. One UI senior told the Daily Iowan, “People will be drinking anyways. If it’s actually controlled and they’re monitoring age and overconsumption, it’s probably a good thing.”

If you’re a parent who is raising a young adult that will be turning 21 soon, read Debra-Lynn Hook’s account of her experience in the Tuesday edition of the Sacramento Bee. Hook wrote that the ritualistic nature of turning 21 can be dangerous: “For many young people, turning 21 becomes synonymous with drinking, which becomes synonymous with cultural belonging, which can easily lead to over-consumption and risky behavior.”

Do you have a news tip for us? Leave a link in the comments section.

St. Louis Beacon columnist on the Amethyst Initiative

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

St. Louis Beacon columnist and retired police official M.W. Guzy offered his take on the Amethyst Initiative this week, arguing that Legal Age 21 has had some dangerous unintended consequences:

“It is one of life’s eternal paradoxes that the young strive to appear older while the old want to look young. Young adults are going to drink. By outlawing this activity, we drive it underground where it is indulged in without the societal restraints normally associated with legitimate behavior.”

In the final section of the column, Guzy called for a graduated approach to alcohol and offered one potential solution to this problem of widespread, underground drinking:

“Perhaps a more nuanced approach should be considered. Maintain the zero tolerance alcohol level for under-age motorists but de-criminalize beer and wine consumption for 18-21 year olds who aren’t driving. Hardly a perfect solution, but a more sensible policy than pretending that what we’re doing works.”

What do you think? Leave your feedback in the comments.

Toledo Blade on Stony Brook’s Red Watch Band

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

Tom Walton, a retired editor and weekly columnist with the Toledo Blade recently discussed the efforts of Stony Brook University’s Red Watch Band in his Monday column titled “Young adult binge drinking nothing to slough off.” Walton lives in Bowling Green and sees the effects of toxic drinking firsthand, but he wrote that the problem extends beyond the borders of college campuses: “If this were only BGSU’s problem or the City of Bowling Green’s problem, there would be no need for the hand-wringing to extend beyond the city limits. But the sad truth is that alcohol abuse by young people 18 to 24 is a crisis across the land, and not just at our universities.”

Walton offered an endorsement of the Red Watch Band as a program that has the potential to encourage safe behavior and save lives: “if just one son or daughter of a total stranger is spared, I don’t care what the critics think.”

What do you think? Check out Walton’s column and leave your feedback in the comments.

[CR] Week in Review

Monday, November 9th, 2009

This version of the Week in Review comes with a pair of event announcements: tonight, [CR] board member Barrett Seaman will be at Ohio State University to debate William DeJong of the Boston University School of Public Health, and on Thursday, the University of Kentucky will host a debate between [CR] President John McCardell and James Fell of the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation. If you’re interested in bringing a [CR] representative to your campus to speak about the drinking age, please e-mail us. Meanwhile, here are the latest headlines from the past week to keep you up to date:

Stories this week:

[CR]’s new Get REAL campaign is going strong, and is getting more attention in campus media outlets. Check out Evan Lisull and Connor Mendenhall’s recent column in the Arizona Daily Wildcat, in which they argued that the issue of the drinking age should be up for debate: “At the very least, the situation on the ground demands a reconsideration of the current drinking-age regime. The university is ostensibly founded on the spirit of free inquiry based on facts, and there is no reason that it should put the blinders on for an issue that affects the majority of its students.”

Medical amnesty policies continue to generate interest on college campuses this fall: the Boston Globe’s “Metro Desk” blog covered recent efforts by Tufts University students to push for a similar policy of its own. Tufts would join other Boston-area colleges such as Harvard, MIT, and Northeastern, who all have amnesty policies on the books.

Last week, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette offered extensive coverage of the Gordie Foundation’s 2009 Presidential Leadership Award, which was given to University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Mark Nordenberg for his efforts to combat high-risk drinking: Sara Bauknecht covered the announcement of the award, Marylynn Uricchio looked back at Gordie Bailey’s story, and the Post-Gazette staff created a fact sheet on the signs of alcohol poisoning.

In other news…

Despite efforts by campus administrators to keep students safe and encourage responsible behavior, there were a record number of underage drinking citations issued at the recent Georgia-Florida college football game.

Millersville University administrators continued their unique efforts to address the issue of toxic drinking for this year’s National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week: the school’s Division of Student Affairs created its second-annual public service announcement contest that focused on harm reduction strategies. John Baltzer, who works in the Student Affairs Division, told the campus newspaper that the goal of the contest is “not to say alcohol is bad or don’t drink, but to please look at the whole picture because now in its second year, the PSA Contest encourages the contestants to examine the things college students don’t know about drinking.”

Staff writer Devin Murphy covered a recent forum at Providence College that tackled a wide range of alcohol issues, from the school’s stance on the Amethyst Initiative to Operation Red Cup, a new enforcement campaign by local law enforcement officials.

Did we miss something from last week? If so, leave a link in the comments section.