KSU tackling `binge' drinking

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The way in which they are dealing with the issue, however, is

entirely different. In recent months, several groups, events and efforts

have started to help educate KSU students about the effects of drinking

on individuals and a community as a whole.

As part of the educational process, there also has been a greater effort among residence halls and the Greek system to curb the amount of drinking that occurs.

KSU's Binge Drinking Coalition formed last spring with a $2,500 grant from Ohio Parents for Drug Free Youth to develop a realistic campaign to reduce binge drinking among college students by making them aware of the consequences and long-term effects, said Alice Ickes, KSU police crime prevention officer and a founding member of the coalition, which includes students and staff.

"We realized this is a time of overlapping concerns and that this isn't a local or isolated problem, but rather is very widespread," Ickes said. "You have to decide whether you are willing to endure the cost or take action to make a change."

Focusing on education rather than prohibition, the coalition developed committees to help create a greater awareness of the issues associated with binge drinking.

"Binge drinking is difficult to define, but it's high-risk drinking ... and is all about frequency," Ickes said. "Everyone needs accurate information. Advertisers spend $2 billion a year and glamorize alcohol, and that doesn't truthfully tell people the high risks ... and doesn't do anything to help people make informed and responsible choices.

"Advertising is very miseading because some will say "bring your own mug" which can be any size, or offer 60-ounce pitchers which is actually five drinks."

A definition of a drink is 12 ounces of beer, four ounces of wine or one ounce of hard liquor.

Through the coalition, its programs in the residence halls and throughout campus, and its marketing and advertising messages, Ickes hopes that students will be made more aware of the long-term effects and consequences of alcohol.

"Students experience problems due to other people's drinking _ they can be assaulted or humiliated by that person, get in an argument or quarrel, be assaulted, have their property damaged, have to baby-sit a drunken student or experienced an unwanted sexual advance," she said. "The whole point of this is about stepping back and looking at the big picture. Alcohol is a causative factor in a vast majority of all of our problems in society."

Although Ickes did not have recent statistics, KSU and Kent police have charged many students with alcohol-related offenses this fall, ranging from underage consumption of alcohol to driving under the influence, assault and other offenses often related to a person drinking.

Education needed

While KSU police and KSU Residence Services believe in enforcing the rules, educating the perpetrators also is important.

Residence Services refers most of the students caught with alcohol to KSU's Office of Judicial Affairs but also tries to educate them about the impact and effects of alcohol, said Constance Foley, residence services director.

One of the ways the office does this is by providing an educational program for all freshman students enrolled in the first-year experience who are caught committing an alcohol-related offense in the residence halls.

Members of the residence services offices were trained in a Risk Reduction Program to teach the Talking About Alcohol program to freshmen students, said Sue Foster, assistant director of student and staff development for residence services.

"It's a researched-base program aimed at lifelong learning; not a moralizing course. We believe their understanding about alcohol will be different than it was without this class," Foster said. "I don't see the class as punitive but as educational and eventually would like to see all KSU students take it."

In addition to the course for on-campus freshmen violators, residence halls also work with KSU's health educators to give students a better understanding about alcohol.

"A lot of times, the biggest problem is denial, and getting them to come in is a big step," said Scott Dotterer, a health education for the Office of Student Health and Promotion of University Health Services. "We can talk about risk management, but if they are already using and abusing ... then my role is to say how and where they can get help. A lot of students don't know where to start but come here as a first step."

The Greeks

Several student organizations also are trying to educate students and help them find help. KSU's Greek system recently formed a new group, Greeks Advocating Mature Management of Alcohol, similar to the coalition in that it discusses risk management and tries to look at the issue of alcohol from a broader perspective.

A handful of KSU's fraternities have set goals to remove all alcohol from their fraternity houses by 2000, although parties off-campus will still include alcohol. All of KSU's sororities have a non-alcohol policy in their houses.

"The national trend is to discard the drinking image. We don't want you if you just want the alcohol," said Stuart Thom, president of the Interfraternity Council. "It's not going to stop the parties or the drinking, but going dry is pulling the liability away from the (Greek) letters, and there are a lot of benefits to going dry.

"If they go dry, fraternities need to act as _ if not more _ responsibly than they do now and the same precaution they take now should continue."

Jason Clause, a member of Phi Delta Theta, agreed. Phi Delta Theta, along with Sigma Nu, are two fraternities that pledged all of their chapters nationally will have dry fraternity houses by 2000.

The local Phi Delt chapter's plans to build a new fraternity house by next year will coincide with when it becomes dry, he said.

"With us moving into a new facility, it would be an easy way to put up

the substance-free policy along with the new house," Clause said. "I

think it is a good decision because it is not fair to have guys in the

house who are older than 21 and have beer living with 18- and 19-year-

olds. Having alcohol around these younger students is not beneficial for

them, ... and going to a substance-free house will help with grades and

studying."

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