Week in Review

Happy Independence Day from the whole team at Choose Responsibility. We hope you and your loved ones have a relaxing and safe holiday weekend. Remember: the Fourth of July is one of the most dangerous holidays of the year for drunk driving. According to NHTSA statistics, 34% of all drivers involved in traffic crashes during the 2007 July 4th holiday period possessed a BAC of .08 or higher. Please drive safely, and bring a designated driver if you plan on drinking.

It’s been another busy week at the [CR] office in DC, as we prepare to make the case for change to state Senators and Representatives from across the country at the NCSL and ALEC conferences later in the month. Visit the link to our campaign to help us get there! And now, the week’s news…

Stories this week:

Greg Esposito of The Roanoke Times continued his “Under 21” series with an in-depth interview with [CR] President John McCardell. Check out what he had to say, and watch an exclusive video clip of the interview, at the Times’ online edition.

Maryland’s Gaithersburg Gazette published a letter to the editor by Mauricio Garcia, who questioned the disparity between the age of majority and the legal drinking age. He argued that in addition to changing our alcohol laws, we should consider raising the driving age, in order to prevent more traffic accidents caused by inexperienced drivers. What do you think? Join the discussion in the comments below.

More news from Maryland: Lauren Redding of the University of Maryland’s Diamondback Online put some recent statistics about collegiate binge drinking into context on her campus: Warren Kelley, an Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs, warned about the dangers of these upward trends, saying, “National trends getting worse are quite concerning. Our students aren’t immune from the direction of society and culture, and if it continues to get worse, I suspect we’ll see the evidence here as well.”

In other news…

A study published in the July issue Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs found that prevention programs on a community level can help curb off-campus drinking by college students. Half of the students participated in a program called Neighborhoods Engaging with Students (NEST) which involved open dialogues about the drinking culture between students, neighbors and law enforcement officials. Drinking among participating students fell by 27 percent compared to the control group. Though the long term effects of the NEST program remain to be seen, it’s possible that programs which emphasize meaningful “town-gown” connections can help curb dangerous drinking.

Writing in The Houston Chronicle, Alan Reed shared students’ perspectives on a recent study showing the increase in binge drinking incidents in college-age women. According to the study, the “gender gap” on binge drinking appears to be narrowing: in 2006, almost 39 percent of women ages 21 to 23 reported that they binge drink. On researcher attributes the rise in binge drinking to the effects of widespread alcohol advertising: underage women saw 68 percent more beer ads and 95 percent more alcopops advertising in 2002 compared to what women of legal age were seeing. When Reed went looking for a student’s take on this issue, he spoke with Sarah Brown, a student at Texas State University, who said, “there’s a lot of guys who want to drink as much as they possibly can, and there’s a lot of girls who want to keep up with those guys. I’ve seen people pass out on sidewalks, pass out in dorms, pass out anywhere.” These upward trends can have dire consequence: after all, alcohol contributes to 97,000 cases of sexual assault on college campuses every year. Clearly, something about our approach to alcohol education isn’t working very well, and it’s time to consider a change in the status quo.

A New York Times editorial this week also took a look at the same study. The editorial, which chided “College presidents who have been blaming drinking-age laws for drunkenness at their schools had better look at their own policies,” called on colleges to take more forceful steps to curb binge drinking. The Times neglected to consider that the fact that binge drinking rates among 18-23 year old male students have remained essentially flat since 1979, and have significantly increased for their female counterparts is not evidence of colleges ignoring the problem, or abdicating responsibility. Quite the opposite–these increases have taken place during a period when there has been increased study of and attention to the dangers of binge drinking on virtually every campus in the nation. This problem is a cultural one, and the results of this study, which are purely correlational, show not that the 21 year-old drinking age has been effective, but that it is time for new strategies and a fresh approach to the toxic drinking that is killing too many young people–both those in college and out of college–every day.

As a reminder, the [CR] officer will be closed in observance of the federal Independence Day holiday on Friday, July 3rd. Enjoy the fireworks this weekend!

One Response to “Week in Review”

  1. Edwin Says:

    The drinking age must be lowered to 18 along with an alcohol education program. The driving age shouldn’t be raised because many states have comprehensive driver education for young drivers. The focus for NEST shouldn’t be prohibition for university students, because that would be ageist, but should only be to reduce alcohol abuse by university students. Alcohol abuse by university students must be significantly reduced because alcohol abuse is not part of a culture of alcohol responsibility.