Thursday, September 18, 2014

College Tries New Ways to Reduce Binge Drinking
September 17th, 2014/

Colleges are looking for new ways to reduce binge drinking, as part of initiatives to reduce campus sexual assaults, NPR reports.

Frostburg State University in Maryland and city police agreed in 2012 to joint jurisdiction. This allows campus police to patrol off campus, looking for house parties. The university helps to pay overtime costs for state, county, city and campus police near the school. “We know there’s going to be underage drinking,” said Frostburg State University police officer Derrick Pirolozzi. “We can’t card everybody. But we want to make sure everybody does it the right way and safe way.” The aim is to prevent bad behavior before it starts.

“The thing that’s so striking to me is that many universities perceive [binge drinking] as an intractable problem and that there’s nothing they can do,” Jonathan Gibralter, president of Frostburg State University, told NPR. When he became president in 2006, the party scene was “out of control,” he said.

In addition to the joint patrols, the school has instituted more Friday morning classes to discourage students from drinking on Thursday nights. Gibralter was instrumental in passing Maryland’s ban on the sale of grain alcohol. The school has received a state grant to form a coalition with police, city officials, parents and business leaders to reduce underage drinking.

Gilbralter has been surprised by the parents and alumni who say they drank in college and don’t see it as a big problem. “When I tell parents that 1,800-plus college students drink themselves to death every year, they are stunned,” he said. “They have no idea.”

The changes seem to be having an effect. Since 2006 the share of Frostburg students who binge drink at least once every two weeks has decreased from 57 to 41 percent, the university says. The average number of drinks students have weekly has dropped from eight to four.

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