Archive for April, 2010

[CR] Week in Review

Friday, April 30th, 2010

This week was a historic week for supporters of the drinking age debate. The Vermont Senate passed SR 17, a resolution urging Congress to create waivers to the federal highway funding penalty attached to the drinking age for states that would like to explore alternatives to Legal Age 21.

Would you like to help us spread the word about this historic victory to other states? Contribute to [CR]’s efforts by making a tax-deductible donation today.

Click here to see the text of the resolution and a statement from [CR] President John McCardell, and then check out these headlines:

Stories this week:

Dr. McCardell was in Madison last night to give a presentation at the University of Wisconsin. His presentation was part of a two-day event focused on the drinking culture among UW students, and Emily Bradley of the Badger-Herald laid out the plans for the event in yesterday’s edition.

Earlier this week, Jason Hanna spoke to parents about the dilemmas they face when trying to educate their young adults about alcohol use while trying to abide by a 21 year-old drinking age. When Hanna asked one parent if she thought it was likely that her children would abstain from alcohol until they turn 21, she said, “I don’t think that’s a reality in this world.” Check out his feature story at for more.

In case you missed it, make sure to read Rochelle Eisenberg’s Baltimore Jewish Times cover story on pre-gaming and toxic drinking, which was published online last weekend.

In other news…

The editorial board of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune believes that the Minnesota legislature should stop interfering in University business and should allow the University of Minnesota to operate the new TCF Bank Stadium and determine its own alcohol sales policies. What do you think?

Cynthia Berger, the Director of News and Public Affairs Programming at WPSU-FM in State College, PA, has helped organize a wide-ranging community forum on the topic of toxic underage drinking at Penn State University. To be a part of the conversation, which will include a live studio audience and online participation from listeners, visit WPSU’s website at 6:30 PM on Sunday.

The Daily Iowan approves of the University of Iowa’s new first-year orientation program on underage drinking, which will combine previously-separated parent and student groups for the first time starting this summer. “We want to foster conversations they can have in the car on the way home,” said Sarah Hansen, the University’s Director of Assessment and Strategic Initiatives. The editors wrote, “At least a few university officials understand that the best alcohol education happens between parents and students. We praise this approach, because it strengthens what parents should have been doing all along with their children.”

Did we miss something in this week’s update? Send us a link in the comments.

Victory in Vermont: SR 17 Passes

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

Yesterday, the Vermont Senate passed SR 17, a resolution urging Congress to consider waivers to the federal highway funding penalty attached to the drinking age for states that would like to debate alternatives to Legal Age 21.

SR 17’s passage represents a historic achievement for the supporters of the drinking age debate. If you’d like to learn more about the resolution, the full text is available here and you can also read [CR]’s press release with a statement from President John McCardell.

Baltimore Jewish Times Cover Story on Pre-Gaming

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

This week, the Baltimore Jewish Times gave the issue of toxic drinking front-page attention with a cover story on the practice known as pre-gaming, in which underage drinkers rapidly consume large quantities of alcohol prior to going out. Rochelle Eisenberg noted that pre-gaming is dangerous for a variety of reasons:

“The problem with pre-gaming, besides being illegal, is that teens and young adults drink a great deal in a small window of time, making alcohol consumption more potent. Even for those who drink early in the evening without getting drunk, but continue drinking at a later party, the consequences can be dire.”

Eisenberg spoke to community members who recalled hosting social events for local young people that got out of hand. Here’s one account from the article:

“Several months ago, the Mitchell David Teen Center in Pikesville held a dance that began at 8:30 p.m. When the teens arrived, many of them had already spent time before the dance at private homes, getting drunk. Four Jewish teens arrived at the dance so drunk they had alcohol poisoning. One of the youngsters, a 10th-grade student, ended up in the emergency room at a local hospital. Many more were ‘smashed,’ vomiting in the parking lots, falling over themselves at the center, acting belligerent, recalls Stan Scherr, supervisor of J.O.I.N. for Teens.

‘Two were swearing at me and throwing things at me, and something hit me in the face,’ he says.

It was so bad that the center had to be closed for the first time in the 10 years it has been holding these events, within a half-hour of the event’s start time.”

Check out the rest of this week’s feature story and let us know what you think in the comments.

Arrests, Rowdiness Threaten Picnic Day at UC-Davis

Monday, April 26th, 2010

For the past 96 years, the community at UC-Davis has come together for Picnic Day, a day-long open house and celebration for students, faculty members, and area residents. This year, Picnic Day was marred by record numbers of police service calls and arrests as a result of toxic drinking by students in the downtown area. Sacramento Bee reporters Gina Kim and Hudson Sangree noted that there was so much dangerous activity going on that law enforcement officials had to prioritize their efforts:  “Overwhelmed officers bypassed incidents such as public drunkenness and people knocking over garbage cans for serious incidents with potential injuries.”

Next year’s Picnic Day may be canceled for the first time since World War II as a result of the toxic drinking and public rowdiness. Saturday’s Sacramento Bee editorial called for better management of the event rather than an outright cancellation: “It’s the alcohol industry off-campus, feeding a climate of binge drinking, that needs to be reined in.” What do you think?

[CR] Week in Review

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

In case you missed it earlier this week, check out Daily Beast reporter Isabel Kaplan’s profile of medical amnesty policies and her interview with [CR] President John McCardell that was published on Tuesday. If you live in Vermont and would like to hear more about these issues in person, Dr. McCardell will be speaking at an event at Castleton College next Monday. Can’t make it to Castleton? Check out these headlines for the latest news.

Stories this week:

The editors of the Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter believe that the recently-passed Wisconsin Assembly bill that sets 18 as the standard for parentally-supervised alcohol consumption in bars and restaurants takes a good first step toward resolving some of the state’s alcohol-related problems. Read their editorial to find out why.

Kevin Bargnes of the Wisconsin Badger-Herald wrote a persuasive column calling for the repeal of the federal highway funding penalty currently attached to Legal Age 21: “What I want to see is our state legislators granted the latitude to evaluate the drinking culture in their states and make laws based on that, without fear of reprisal from the federal government.” What do you think of his argument?

Alexandra Churchill, a reporter with The New Hampshire at UNH, noticed that her school is one of the few in the region without a Good Samaritan or medical amnesty policy. Students on campus are organizing on Facebook and petitioning the student government to advocate for the implementation of such a policy.

In other news…

A few months ago, we mentioned a newly-formed group at the University of Nevada – Reno which received federal grant money to plan late-night activities that would give students new options besides clandestine drinking parties. The Nevada Sagebrush reviewed the group’s performance in its first semester of operation and concluded that the group was modestly successful.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reported this week on some new research that will examine the effect of different types of anti-binge drinking messages on student drinking patterns. A team of Kansas State University researchers is leading the project, and they hope to publish the results of their study this summer.

Susan Krauss Whitborne, a Psychology professor at U. Mass. – Amherst is trying to untangle the meanings of the positive correlation between frequent drinking and frequent exercise among college students. Read her article in Psychology Today for more information about her research.

Did we miss something in this week’s update? Leave us a link in the comments.

The Daily Beast on Alcohol Amnesty Policies

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

This morning, Daily Beast reporter Isabel Kaplan tackled the issue of amnesty policies by taking a look at the official rules on a few Ivy League campuses. She noted that at Harvard and Yale, alcohol-related hospitalizations have been rising, which could be evidence that students are taking advantage of these amnesty policies and calling for medical help more often.

She also spoke with [CR] President John McCardell, who told her that Legal Age 21 prevents parents and educators from teaching students about responsible safe alcohol consumption.  “The source of the problem isn’t the enforcement of the law. The source of the problem is the law itself.”

Check out the rest of the article for more comments from Dr. McCardell and let us know what you think.

KU Students Host Alcohol Awareness Event and Memorial

Monday, April 19th, 2010

On Friday night, hundreds of Kansas University students gathered for an alcohol-awareness event and memorial called the Jason Wren Initiative. The event was organized by the University chapter of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, and was designed to give students an open forum to discuss the problems associated with toxic drinking on campus and in Lawrence.

Last spring, Jason Wren and Dalton Hawkins – two KU students – passed away in separate alcohol-related incidents.

SAE President Matt Abraham told the University Daily Kansan, “After Jason’s death, it hit the KU community pretty hard that there is a cultural drinking problem at KU. We want to shed light on it and hopefully be able to prevent something like that from happening again.”

[CR] Week in Review

Friday, April 16th, 2010

Now that the spring break period has passed and most college students have returned to campus, many news outlets in Florida are surveying the aftermath of a handful of alcohol-related deaths and a record number of arrests, which were up 144 percent over the March 2009 spring break period in Panama City. Check out the Panama City News-Herald editorial, “Spring Breaking Point,” to read about what the community is trying to do to reverse these trends. Then check out the rest of this week’s headlines to stay up to date on all the latest news.

Stories this week…

Coming on the heels of last week’s segment, Inside Higher Ed and the Washington Post Campus Overload” blog reported on sweeping changes to campus alcohol policy at UW-Stout, the school that was profiled in the segment. Stout Chancellor Charles Sorenson announced that students will face serious punishments for a range of alcohol-related violations, including fake ID possession, vandalism, hosting house parties, and other infractions. The university will also schedule more Friday classes in an attempt to curb toxic Thursday night drinking. Some Stout students aren’t convinced that these measures will work. What do you think?

A team of reporters at the Las Vegas Journal-Review spent a Friday night shift with local police officers and observed as they broke up six underage drinking parties. The police officers involved called it a “slow night.” Check out the Journal-Review to learn more about these “party crasher” patrols, which are trying to prevent the deaths and injuries that can occur at secret house parties.

The proposed 21-only bar ordinance in Iowa City passed in the legislature last week. Check out the Daily Iowan interview with UI President Sally Mason to find out how the school plans to adjust its policies in accordance with the new law.

In other news…

Researchers at Harvard Medical School have found that rates of alcohol consumption are likely influenced by personal networks of family members and friends. According to the research, heavy drinkers have a large impact on the drinking habits of others within their social networks.

A group of students and faculty members at Murray State University debated the merits of a lower drinking age this week. Interest in the issue has been high ever since Murray State President Randy Dunn signed on to the Amethyst Initiative, and this week’s event brought a diverse group together to talk about the consequences of Legal Age 21.

Did you find a newsworthy story this week? Leave us a link in the comments.

VA Appellate Court Strikes Down Alcohol Ads in Student Papers

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

A Virginia appellate court has re-instituted a ban on alcohol advertisements in college newspapers, according to a report in Virginia Tech’s Collegiate Times. The Fourth Circuit’s 2-1 decision reverses an earlier district court ruling which found that these bans were illegal. The ban was initially put in place in 2006 by the Virginia Department of Alcohol Beverage Control, and the new ruling represents the latest development in a long legal battle. The majority opinion read, “Though the correlation between advertising and demand alone is insufficient to justify advertising bans in every situation … here it is strengthened because ‘college student publications’ primarily target college students and play an inimitable role on campus.”

According to the Collegiate Times, the lone dissenting opinion appealed to the First Amendment: “In free speech cases, it is dangerous and unwise to sustain broad regulations for narrow reasons.”

What do you think is the appropriate policy? Let us know by leaving your feedback in the comments.

John McCardell on

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

Earlier this year, [CR] President John McCardell taped a segment on the drinking age with Paul Feine and the team at The video was published online today – watch it here and let us know what you think: