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The Minnesota Daily

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The Minnesota Daily

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AMA survey finds college drinking problem; U plans new programs

As freshmen moved into the residence halls Saturday, their parents’ main concern probably extended beyond fitting their children’s stuff into a small dorm room.

Some parents’ biggest fears had to do with their child’s plans for Saturday night.

An American Medical Association survey released last week found that 95 percent of parents of college students believe excessive alcohol consumption is a serious threat to their children. The survey also found that 85 percent of parents thought the availability of alcohol on campuses contributes to binge drinking.

The survey defined binge drinking as consuming four or more alcoholic beverages in one sitting more than three times per week.

Dave Dorman, Boynton Health Service health education specialist, said excessive drinking is not a large problem on campus. However, Boynton, with the help of Hennepin County’s alcohol, tobacco and other drugs task force, is making binge drinking on campus more difficult for students.

According to the American Medical Association, binge drinking increased nationally on college campuses, and “one in four students are frequent binge drinkers.”

Dorman said Boynton’s social norms campaign – the posters around campus reading “65 percent of University undergraduates drink three or fewer drinks in an average week” – show students that not everyone is getting drunk on the weekends.

“We think we’re on the healthier side of the continuum of colleges,” Dorman said.

Boynton plans to adopt programs successful at other campuses, including alcohol-free activities and hiring a substance-abuse health promotions specialist.

Last month, Hennepin County and Boynton jointly hired Marguerite Zauner to promote alcohol prevention at the University and surrounding communities.

Some of the programs Zauner plans to implement include reducing drink specials,
collecting more fake IDs at local bars and holding alcohol prevention workshops within the Greek system. She said these programs have decreased binge drinking on other campuses.

Zauner said excessive drinking on campuses can lead to violence, sexual assault and crime and can also negatively affect grades.

University sophomore biology major Emily Doss said she didn’t like the idea of eliminating drink specials. She said it won’t stop
students from drinking – they just won’t drink in bars.

Although drink-special reduction isn’t popular with some students, Traci Toomey, an assistant professor in the School of Public Health, said it is an important policy change to focus on.

Toomey said studies have found as drink prices increase, the number of drinks consumed decreases.

Although University officials attempt to discourage excessive drinking, parents dropping off their children might feel powerless.

Marjorie Savage, director of the Parent Program at the University, said drinking is a concern for parents. She encourages parents to discuss the implications of alcohol – not just how to say no – with their college-aged children.

“We don’t worry about him,” said Pat Erickson, who helped her son move into the dorms Saturday. “We worry about the people around him. We know it’s out there, we just hope he uses good judgment.”

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