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Public health professor presents symposium on SCSU student drinking

photo courtesy Southern NewsLAUREN MANGERIStaff Writer

Students at Southern took a 2010 CORE drug and alcohol survey last year and the results are in. Students were asked to answer questions such as: how many drinks do you have a week, do you ever drink and drive and do you binge drink?
The survey was a random sample and also anonymous, said Sandy Bulmer, a public health professor. On Nov. 16, a symposium about student alcohol use based on information Bulmer has been collecting and analyzing from the survey, which is administered on campus every other year, was presented during a workshop.
“This workshop was targeted towards faculty,” Bulmer said. “But having students here was a good addition, to get feedback.”
The survey consisted of 32 percent seniors, 28 percent juniors, 25 percent sophomores and 13 percent freshmen. Binge drinking is consuming five or more drinks in one sitting said Sara Barrows, a public health graduate student. Barrows presented this information during the workshop.
One of the questions on the survey asked students where they drank alcohol—on-campus or off-campus. In 2008, anybody of legal age could sign in a certain amount of alcohol at Southern, according to Barrows. In 2010, the policy changed to a dry campus for all freshmen, including residents residing in West Campus, Neff, Hickerson, Chase, Wilkinson and Farnham Halls.
After that policy changed, there was a 10 percent increase of alcohol consumption in 2010 of males who lived in residence halls. Since Southern is now a dry-campus, students are aware of the strict policies, including Eva Charron, a public health major.
“I live at North Campus,” Charron said. “I have lived at other residential halls, but since I am graduating soon, I wanted a little more freedom.”
North Campus, Brownell Hall and Schwartz Hall are for upperclassmen. Students are allowed to sign in a six-pack of 12 oz. beers, 8 oz. of liquor or a 28 oz. bottle of wine if the student is over the age of 21.
One hundred percent of all 21-and-over students who participated in the survey and live on campus were aware of Southern’s alcohol policy.
“The majority of students prefer to have alcohol available at parties,” Barrows said. Southern’s alcohol use in comparison to the national reference group of over 100 colleges around the country was 0.3 over, according to the survey.
The consequences of excessively drinking alcohol were incorporated into the survey as well. Consequence survey questions included: binged in the past two weeks; drove a car under the influence in the last year; been in trouble with police, residence hall or college authorities; performed poorly on a test; done something later regretted, had a hangover, missed a class and got into an argument or fight. All of these consequences are concerning to Bulmer, who said she would like to know how the alcohol consumption could be minimized.
Students in the workshop agreed everybody is going to drink alcohol regardless, but Charron said if there was a public transportation to downtown and back, driving under the influence could be minimized.
It has been said binge drinking is a common health problem on campuses in America. The amount of binge drinking in a two-week period for Southern students from 2004 to 2010 has gone up 10 percent. Nearly 52 percent of all Southern students who participated in the survey have admitted to binge-drinking six times in two weeks.
“That would typically mean drinking Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Then Thursday, Friday and Saturday of the next week,” Barrows said.
It is a concern for faculty to minimize the behavior of drinking alcohol on campus, but it is also the concern of the students that the time of activities for students to participate in, should be at times more accessible to students, so drinking could be cut down.

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