Boynton targets binge drinkers

by Jason King

Think all students are getting drunk this weekend? Dunk that idea!
With this slogan, Boynton Health Service is spearheading a campaign to inform students that not all University undergraduates binge drink. Amelious Whyte, coordinator of Chemical Health Programs at Boynton, said students overestimate the number of their peers who drink heavily.
And when asked why they drink, many students can’t come up with a good reason, Whyte said.
“Many students, especially in the dorms, say they drink because they’re bored,” he said.
Binge drinking is defined as consuming five or more drinks at one sitting.
Boynton’s 1996 Core Alcohol and Drug Survey shows that the rate of binge drinking at the University is 39 percent — 5 percent lower than the national average.
The survey also found that one-third of undergraduates don’t drink at all.
To educate students about the statistics, Boynton is distributing buttons with the slogan, “What is 32?,” or “What is 65?” Whyte and other Boynton employees will walk around campus looking for button-clad students. When they see buttons, they will stop the students and ask what the phrase means. If the students answer correctly, they win tickets to a University athletic event, theater performance or movie.
But while a support system may exist, some say a binge drinking problem remains.
Frontier Hall night manager Sean Larson said that although the number of students caught drinking has declined since the beginning of the school year, he still writes incident reports for up to 20 students on weekend shifts.
“Often it’s the same people getting busted,” Larson said. “They don’t catch on.”
Larson said a few students have been taken to emergency rooms for alcohol poisoning when he has worked.
With recent deaths at other schools from alcohol poisoning, Larson said night managers have been trained to spot this condition and call paramedics if they feel it is warranted.
To combat this problem, Boynton’s campaign aims to educate students about alcohol poisoning.
“We’re emphasizing the academic consequences of binge drinking,” Whyte said.
This includes telling faculty members that it is OK to give a test on a Friday. Whyte said some have been reluctant to give tests on Fridays in the past, thinking students will need to recover from a Thursday night spent drinking.
In addition to education about drinking, Whyte said the University needs to sponsor programs that show students, particularly those living in residence halls, can find activities that don’t involve drinking.
Frontier Hall director Laurissa Jeroslow said these programs are already going on.
“Three of 14 resident assistants here have already done bulletin boards showing free activities in Minneapolis on weekends,” she said. “We’re always doing programs or activities in the dorms.”
Jeroslow emphasized that the residence halls provide support for students. If residence hall officials feel a student is drinking too much, she said, they refer the student for a chemical assessment at Boynton.