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Colleges educate students on drinking dangers

Posted August 18, 2008

— Alcohol is the most commonly used and abused drug among young people in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. To curb abuse, some Triangle colleges are educating students on drinking dangers even before they set foot on campus.

Fall classes don't begin until Wednesday, but some college students have already fallen into trouble with alcohol.

Over the weekend, University of North Carolina star tennis player Chris Kearney, 20, veered off the road in the 200 block of North Columbia Street and his sport utility vehicle hit two UNC students on the sidewalk, police said.

Carolyn Anne Kubitschek, 21, of Asheville, and Casey Marie LeSawyer, 21, of Weaverville, were taken to UNC Hospitals with serious injuries, officials said.

Kearney was charged with two counts of inflicting personal injury, felony hit-and-run causing personal injury and possessing a fake ID and one count each of driving while impaired and consuming alcohol under the age of 21.

“The car just came from behind us, swerved out of control and hit them,” witness Pam Postage said.

In April, North Carolina State University junior Brian Anthony Reid, 21, was charged with driving while impaired, as well as felony death by motor vehicle.

Nancy Leidy, 60, died after she was struck by Reid's pickup truck while she was riding her bicycle on Nazareth Street near the N.C. State campus.

"I think there is just a perceived societal norm, that this is what college students are supposed to do. They are supposed to drink,” Chris Austin, N.C. State University's assistant director of substance abuse and prevention, said.

Four other students were reported for violating the alcohol policy on campus over the weekend.

While university officials say they don't want underage students to drink , they know some will. So the AlcoholEdu program aims to help those students make informed decisions about alcohol.

Beginning last year, the university began requiring all first-year students take the online alcohol-awareness program. The three-hour program must be completed before they arrive on campus.

“There was a lot of stuff that I didn't know that it was good to hear about. I definitely think it's going to impact how I start off here in college,” N.C. State University freshman Tyler Murphey said.

The school is also posting fliers on campus that offer tips on safe drinking.

“For those who are choosing to drink, our goal is to have them drink in low-risk ways as compared to high risk ways,” Austin said.

UNC Chapel Hill has a similar program. It's only required when a student gets into trouble with alcohol, however. School administrators said are looking into making it mandatory for everyone.

A report that Chapel Hill police issued for activity over the weekend, when students returned to town, listed numerous arrests for consumption by a minor and for having an open container.

e-CHUG and MyStudentBody are also resources about drinking for college students.


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  • NC is my home Aug 19, 2008

    The best way to educate these people is say: You drink & cause problems or get arrested--you can no longer attend an NC college. That will sober them up!

  • TheAdmiral Aug 19, 2008

    Let's see. So far the answer to all of the schools and colleges is to educate their students.

    In the past - it never worked.
    In the future - it will never work.

    The facts are there - drinking ages in other countries are set as low as 12 and they have a lower instance of addiction, binging, and alcohol related accidents and injuries.

    The United States keeps ignoring the information in front of their face for the sake of putting it into a committee to see the same information and then never acting on what they find. Any committee is a way of deferring it until after an election.

    We need to make sure that these people who defer an issue until after an election are rooted out.


  • Newsjunkie Aug 19, 2008

    Kids are going to experiment - either with alcohol and drugs, or both. It's way past time to "educate" them on the dangers and the proper use of these substances. It, of course, should come from the family, but failing that, college is good. I think high school would be better. It's way past time to pull our heads out of the sand and teach our kids that if they are going to drink alcohol, there are consequences, sometimes very severe. Same goes for marijuana, although I don't know of any instances where people have been injured by a person smoking pot driving a vehicle. I'm sure there are some, but nothing compared to alcohol. But the proper recreational use of marijuana should also be addressed somewhere along the line. I'm sure the university system is more concerned with keeping the students safe (alcohol) at this point.

  • Space Mountain Aug 19, 2008

    People know about drinking and driving. They know it is bad. They just still choose to do it. It's not like they don't know better. If they can get into college, they should know not to drink and drive. It's just common sense. This has nothing to do with a lack of knowledge. It's just that some folks don't care.

  • abeille Aug 19, 2008

    This is definitely an American culture issue. In high school I visited European countries where the drinking ages have been 18 and even 16, and you just do not see the type of drinking behavior there like you see here. The culture there doesn't make alcohol the 'forbidden fruit' that we make it, and the young people do not feel the need to get blotto in order to be 'cool' or have a good time. In fact, of the places I went to while I was 16 and 18, I was usually one of the only people there in that age range. The majority of bar patrons were more mature adults.

    Also, why is this just the colleges' responsibility. Parents need to get their heads out of the sand and realize that their precious angels are probably binge drinking in high school and even in middle school in some cases. Kids need to be educated earlier than college to understand the consequences of alcohol. Enough of all this babying, people need to be accountable for their OWN actions.

  • Lit Aug 19, 2008

    Time to get ready for that "Lower the Drinking Age!" nonsense...

  • WRALblows Aug 19, 2008

    Oh - my bad. I missed where colleges were "requiring" incoming students to take the class. A for effort. Still won't do much.

  • WRALblows Aug 19, 2008

    "Colleges educate students on drinking dangers"

    When, today? Immediately following a slew of stories about college drunks killing and maiming people on the roads as cited in the story? Oh wait, no. This is a feel good story trying to reassure everyone that colleges are taking action on the issue, albeit completely ineffective. Oh yes, every college student is in line for a voluntary course on drinking. The only way you could get them there is to serve beer.

    I'm sorry for the writer who got this assignment at WRAL. I know the editors are under pressure to do a story surrounding the colleges action in liue of the bad press. Guess what? It's Friday night and a lot of college kids will be drunk. Many, many will be under age and several will drive.