Local News

Many Students at UNC-Chapel Hill Do Not Drink That Often

Posted August 9, 1999

— Despite suggestions to the contrary, a new study shows that a substantial majority of students at theUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel Hilldo not drink on weekends.

Results of a two-year study on drinking habits at UNC-Chapel Hill were released Tuesday morning. The study found that 66 percent of students tested on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights returned home with a .00 alcohol concentration in their blood.

In all, the study from theUNC Highway Safety Research Centerdetermined that, on average, 72 percent had no alcohol in their blood streams on any given night.

Ron Foss, one of the directors of the study, says the findings show that while many students drink, they do not drink most of the time. He also says the study puts to rest stereotypes showing excessive drinking and drunkenness on campus.

"There is really far less drinking, and certainly far less excessive drinking, on this campus than is generally believed to be the case," Foss said.

Incoming freshman Jasper Harris has the perception that most college students drink alcohol.

"College is very stressful, and people use alcohol as a way to deal with that," he said.

College officials hope that as Harris and other freshman learn their way around campus, they will also learn that alcohol does not have to be a big part of the experience.

Contrary to the new findings, a study released in December reported that half of all UNC students were binge drinkers.

Tuesday's study puts a damper on the image of college students as heavy drinkers and hard partiers.

"At parties, whether it's at fraternity houses or a private apartment party, I usually see drinking everywhere," says UNC junior Jeff Stockdale.

To complete the recent study, researchers went to residence halls, fraternity and sorority houses, and off-campus apartments between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m. They took Breathalyzer readings from 1,800 students as they returned home.

"The reason we tend to think there's so much drinking is because it's people who have been drinking who come to our attention," Foss said.

The results are surprising to people like Mike Cridge, a Franklin Street bartender.

"I don't think I believe it," he said. "In my experience, they are not sober when they get home. I think the survey that came our a few years ago is more accurate."

In that survey, about half of all UNC students described themselves as binge drinkers. Students were asked to remember and record how much they drank during a two week period.

"We cut through all that by measuring alcohol in the system, so it cuts out a lot of confusion in the data," Foss said.

UNC is publicizing the survey results on campus. They say peer pressure plays a big role in how much students drink. UNC officials want students to know that most of their friends are not out getting drunk.

A new anti-drinking campaign was also revealed Tuesday. Randomly selected students can receive $50 if they have an anti-drinking poster in their dorm room. They can get $5 if they are stopped and have the program's sticker somewhere on them. And they can win $1 if they know the campaign's slogan, which is "2 out of 3, .00 BAC."

From staff and wire reports.

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