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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Campus Drinking Is A Growing Concern

Every year campus drinking is a growing concern, universities and colleges across the nation battle alcohol and underage drinking. Incidents that occur on campus are likely to have involved alcohol. A study released last year by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism found that there were 1,825 alcohol-related deaths among 18- to 24-year-old students in 2005; the statistic consists of not just the rare but widely reported alcohol-poisoning deaths tied to parties and hazing, the majority of deaths are a result of drunk driving and falls where the head is injured. Stanford feels like the system they have in place to combat underage drinking works, despite new laws in Santa Clara County. The new ordinance allows the police more ease when citing people hosting parties where underage drinking takes place. Fines will be imposed up to $1,000 and anytime the police are called in will add to the cost. Jean McCown, Stanford's Director of Community Relations said to the SF Chronicle, "We already have a significant commitment to curbing underage drinking and require that on-campus parties be registered, we were concerned that the county rules would send those parties underground and out of sight".

The majority of Stanford's students, around 95 percent of the 6,600 undergraduates, are younger than 21. Naturally, many of those students live on campus in university-owned housing. Stanford is the landlord and they would be considered liable if the police show up to houses with underage drinking. Stanford is not a well known drinking campus and has never had incidence of alcohol poisoning that resulted in death, but, drinking is still an active past time and students are still cited every weekend on campus.

Stanford was given a stay on the ordinance which was passed last year, after presenting their program to the Board of Supervisors. The 12 month stay gave Stanford a chance to prove that a permanent exemption was warranted. "We already had a program on board that our students understand and believe in", said Ralph Castro, director of the university's Substance Abuse Prevention Project. Despite their "successful" program, Stanford had no choice but to tighten its alcohol policies on campus for 2010.

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