Archive for April, 2012


Monday, April 30th, 2012

Secret-society initiations (and their stereotypical hazing) are supposed to be just that–secret. Yet, these sketchy rituals, which often occur in dark basements wrought with generations worth of party filth, loose their clandestine nature when they go dreadfully awry. So awry that at least one college student has died in a hazing ritual every year for the last four decades. 

Hazing rituals vary, but excessive alcohol and coerced drinking are usually a constant. At the risk of generalizing, the rituals typically involve young men and women being challenged demonstrate bravado through forced alcohol consumption. This behavior is not only dangerous, but it also serves as an expression of a culture where responsible drinking is not encouraged.

Our current drinking age forces consumption underground and behind closed doors–and it pushes to the extremes of hazing.

Freshmen account for 1/3 of college deaths

Friday, April 27th, 2012

College freshmen account for one-third of all deaths on college campuses. Freshmen are, generally speaking, below the age of 21, yet this statistic indicates that their drinking reaches dangerous levels more often than that of most other age groups. Although the legal drinking age has been 21 longer than the class of 2015 has been alive, MLDA 21 has not prevented these students from experimenting with substances in a dangerous and noticeable way.

College drinking deaths rose 27.6% between 1999 and 2005

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

For all alcohol related fatalities not associated with automobiles, raising the drinking age to 21 has had no discernible effect on fatalities associated with alcohol. Alcohol-related suicides, accidents, drownings, murders, and alcohol poisoning rates have shown no decline associated with the drinking age. Death or injury from alcohol overdose has become a great concern to parents, teachers, high school and college administrators since the drinking age was raised to 21. This concern is particularly relevant, because college drinking deaths increased between 1999 and 2005. 

44, 2000

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

We recently published a list of 10 Sobering Stats on College Drinking and promised to examine each statistic individually. “Roughly 2,000 college students die annually of overconsumption of alcohol was number 1 on a list of 10 painful reminders of the ineffectiveness of MLDA 21”. Not only do 2,000 college students, who likely learn to drink in unsafe, sequestered environments, die annually, but 44% of college students report binge drinking.

The Harvard School of Public Health 1999 College Alcohol Study surveyed students on 119 college campuses throughout the country and found that 44% of U.S. college students engaged in binge drinking during the two weeks before the survey. While we often think of binge drinking as something more serious than 5 drinks consumed by males or 4 drinks consumed by females, it remains true that drinking beyond this threshold is correlated to a host of negative outcomes.Even more troubling is the fact that binge drinking on college campuses has INCREASED by 56% since the drinking age was altered in the 1980s.

10 Sobering Stats on College Drinking Deaths

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

Our friends at Online Colleges shared some sobering facts on college drinking with us this week, and the information proved too salient not to share it with you. While we are keenly aware of the pervasiveness of binge drinking on college campuses, reading cold hard facts–especially on death–painfully reminds us of the ineffectiveness of MLDA 21. We’ll be examining each of these 10 truths individually in the next several days.

1. Nearly 2,000 students die from alcohol related injuries each year.

2. College drinking deaths rose 27.6% between 1999 and 2005.

3. Freshmen account for nearly one-third of college student deaths.

4. 53% of students have experienced depression, and less than one-third seek help.

5. At least one student has died from drinking in college hazing rituals every year for the last four decades.

6. In 82% of hazing deaths, copious amounts of alcohol are a common denominator.

7. Chico State University student Matthew Carrington died from binging on water.

8. Eighty-three of the college student deaths between 1999 and 2005 were of underage students.

9. At a .15 BAC, the chances of a car accident are 200% higher.

10. At Colorado State University, a student died of alcohol poisoning with a BAC of .436.


Why 21?

Monday, April 9th, 2012

Have you ever wondered why the drinking age was raised to, and has remained, 21? We were curious too, and we found a few reasons cited by MLDA 21 supporters. Supporters’ reasons for upholding the current age seemed exaggerated, so we did some research of our own and found that the 21 year old drinking age does not achieve the “primary reasons cited by supporters” stated below.

The primary reasons for upholding MLDA 21, cited by supporters of the law:

  • It saves lives by preventing alcohol-related traffic fatalities among 18-20 year-olds and the rest of the population.
  • Since the developing adolescent brain is affected differently by alcohol than the adult brain, the 21 year-old drinking age protects adolescents and young adults from its potentially negative consequences.
  • It prevents adolescents from gaining access to alcohol. Some research has found that the earlier one starts to drink, the more likely he or she will experience alcohol dependence and related problems later in life.

Seem bold? We thought so too! Our research has shown that the arguments above are overstated:

  • There is no demonstrable cause and effect relationship between the 21 year-old drinking age and the decline in alcohol-related fatalities. While its proponents may claim that the 21 year-old drinking age is solely responsible, we found that many factors–increased seat belt use, development of airbag and anti-lock brake technologies, advent of the “designated driver,” and stigmatization of drunk driving to name just a few–had the effect of making our roads and vehicles safer over the past two and a half decades.
  • The claims of neurological research on alcohol and the adolescent brain have, in many cases, been overstated. Statements like MADD’s “teenagers who drink too much may lose as much as 10 percent of their brainpower” often exaggerate the findings of research findings based on data gathered from rat populations, leading to an oversimplified and alarmist approach to very complicated neurological research. Stay tuned here for more information on alcohol and the brain…
  • The context in which one first consumes alcohol is as, if not more, important as the age of initiation. Age is just a number. Scientific and anthropological data from around the world have shown that the context in which alcohol is first consumed cultural attitudes towards drinking are much more important in determining whether or not an individual will have alcohol-related problems later in life.

Week in Review

Friday, April 6th, 2012

Thanks for following responsibility in the news with us this week.  Here’s a top to bottom review of the articles we’ve looked at since Monday.

UK Plays Defense

Harvard and U. South Carolina assess campus alcohol cultures

Minnesota seeks to loosen liquor laws, slightly

And if you’re celebrating a holiday this weekend, we at [CR] wish you a safe one.

Minnesota seeks to loosen liquor laws, slightly

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

A Minnesota liquor bill, which would enable alcohol sales at University of Minnesota football games, recently passed through the state’s House of Representatives.

According to the Minnesota Session Daily, Rep. Phyllis Khan argued in favor of “allowing those under age 21 to drink at on-sale locations with guardians and those ages 19-20 to drink at on-sale locations independently”. The bill includes other provisions for alcohol sales statewide, but Khan’s proposed amendments, targeted at underage binge drinking, were vetoed.


Harvard and U. South Carolina assess campus alcohol culture

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

Recent press from Harvard and the University of South Carolina revealed movement in each institutions’  perpetual struggle with students’ alcohol use.

Information about Harvard’s  and USC’s  efforts, made available to the online public, comes near the conclusion of the academic year for most institutions. The end of a school year offers a natural break from the commitments of the academic calendar and allows administrators to take a long look at their numbers.

The University of South Carolina spoke frankly about alcohol in a three part series published in The Daily Gamecock, the school’s student newspaper. The series’ first installment asserted that USC has a “systemic problem with alcohol”.

According to data from AlcoholEdu, a survey given to freshmen and used by schools nationwide, roughly 29% of USC’s freshmen have binge drank before even coming to college. The problem begins before students arrive and is perpetuated by peer-to-peer training at fraternity parties, tailgates, and bars. The culture breeds irresponsible experience.

USC’s public conversation about alcohol comes on the heels of two campus deaths since January 2012. Administrators realize that the problem exists and that campus alcohol consumption will not fix itself,

“I think it’s been a culmination of things that are happening right now,” Maggie Leitch, coordinator for the Office of Substance Abuse Prevention and Education said. “Trends across the country, trends here on campus, potentially some of the deaths. But I think it’s gotten people to really have that light bulb moment — now is the time.”

As USC evaluates its culture, Harvard rewrote its college alcohol policy and placed more responsibility in the hands of its students. Articles in the Harvard Crimson and the Harvard Magazine explained the unprecedented move and its consequences for students.

Students seem to be pleased that the policy will allow the opportunity to exhibit greater responsibility at the parties they host, as indicated by Catherine Katz in remarks to the Harvard Crimson,

“[The administration] could easily have taken a very hard-line policy and said no,” Katz said. “The fact that they were willing to try [the pilot program] shows they were willing to listen.”

Although the policy appreciates student input and concern, the policy also recognizes the inherent problems with campus alcohol culture and strictly discourages any activity in which alcohol plays the primary role.

UK Plays Defense

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

No no, not that UK, although one could argue that the newly crowned NCAA champs also showed exemplary defense in their win over Kansas last night.

Sports analogies aside, Jane Peyton offered a usually unspoken (and refreshing) perspective on alcohol  in the Huffington Post UK yesterday. The humorous blogger’s defense of spirits comes at a time when social culture in the United Kingdom is under great scrutiny.

Take a moment and read her article here.