Local News

Colleges educate students on drinking dangers

Posted August 18, 2008 10:42 p.m. EDT
Updated August 18, 2008 11:53 p.m. EDT

— 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.