No Hard Stuff?

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Matt Stevens in an article “Fraternities Vote to Ban Hard Alcohol After Deadly Hazing Episodes” in the New York Times reported on a move by some fraternities to limit the use of hard liquor:

The trade association that represents dozens of fraternities across the nation and around the world has voted to ban hard alcohol in the wake of a series of high-profile hazing episodes that have resulted in deaths and lawsuits, officials announced this week.

Specifically, the resolution passed by the group prohibits “alcohol products above 15 percent A.B.V.” from being present in “any chapter facility” — such as a fraternity house — or “at any chapter event” unless it is being sold by a licensed third party. Adults 21 and older are not exempt, officials said; beer, wine and malt beverages, which all fall below the 15 percent alcohol by volume threshold, will be allowed.

The move, announced Tuesday by the North-American Interfraternity Conference, was agreed to under a “near unanimous vote” at a meeting last month and is aimed at making fraternities and the more than 800 college campuses they are associated with safer, officials said.

The conference represents over 80 percent of fraternities nationwide, said Judson Horras, the group’s president and chief executive. Member fraternities with their more than 6,000 chapters must put a compliant policy in place by Sept. 1, 2019.

Many of the fraternities in the North-American Interfraternity Conference (NAIC) are represented at the University of Alabama.

According to the University of Alabama’s policy on alcohol, the use of alcohol in fraternities by under-aged drinkers is strictly prohibited.

Individuals under 21 years of age are not permitted to consume alcohol or be in possession of alcohol. Alcohol paraphernalia (which includes but is not limited to: empty beer cans or bottles, shot glasses, etc.) are prohibited and considered a violation of policy.

The Stevens article questioned NAIC President Judson Horras about the ban’s potential effectiveness:

Asked whether it was possible that students would sneak in hard alcohol anyway or simply ignore the policy, Mr. Horras conceded that “there is no perfect silver bullet for working with college students.”

 

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Zero Tolerance

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Ellie Melero reported in the O’Colly that Oklahoma State University and Stillwater are taking measures to curb under-aged drinking:

Oklahoma State University and the Stillwater community are working together to crack down on underage drinking and substance abuse.

The Payne County Substance Abuse Coalition has partnered with OSU Prevention Programs and local law enforcement for the past five years to help tackle and prevent alcohol and substance abuse that can often happen in college towns.

Chuck Lester, who works for OSU Prevention Programs, led the press conference Tuesday to let students and community members know there will be a zero-tolerance policy for underage drinking and improper alcohol use.

“We will have some saturation patrols where they’ll be working specifically on enforcing all the alcohol laws so that the expectations are set,” Lester said. “We understand that college can be a time where people drink. The expectation here is that they do it responsibly.”

Capt. Erik Smoot, a representative of the Oklahoma ABLE Commission, emphasized the zero-tolerance policy is for public safety.

“There will be a mass emphasis the first few weeks of school where we’re out,” Smoot said. “We’re enforcing these laws. There is zero tolerance. If these kids are drinking and driving, if these kids are drinking in bars underage, if they’re at these house parties causing problems, they’re going to go to jail for that. It’s all for their safety.” 

One of the goals of the coalition is to put an end to assault and driving under the influence.

“Our goal is that if we do this now, we don’t have as many fatal crashes,” Smoot said. “(And) we don’t have as many incidents on campus that involve alcohol and assaults.”

Alcohol sales are permitted at OSU athletic events but the zero-tolerance policy, according to Melero will still apply.

This year, vendors will sell alcohol at Boone Pickens Stadium during football games. OSUPD isn’t changing its policies toward alcohol misconduct. There will be no leniency on game days.

Sgt. Michael Galbraith, a representative for OSUPD, said the department would continue its enforcement.

“We’ve put together a team of officers that are specifically detailed to look out for underage drinking around the games and throughout the tailgate sections during game days,” Galbraith said. “If they’re underage, they will usually get cited for underage-in-possession, and if they’re inebriated to the point where they can’t control themselves or they can’t take care of themselves, they will be arrested for public intoxication and taken to the county jail.”

Under-aged drinking as a national problem has been recognized by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Its fact sheet states:

Underage drinking is a serious public health problem in the United States. Alcohol is the most widely used substance of abuse among America’s youth, and drinking by young people poses enormous health and safety risks.

The consequences of underage drinking can affect everyone—regardless of age or drinking status. We all feel the effects of the aggressive behavior, property damage, injuries, violence, and deaths that can result from underage drinking. This is not simply a problem for some families—it is a nationwide concern.

 

Oklahoma State University and the Stillwater community are to be commended for the zero-tolerance policy.  For such a program of enforcement of the law to be feasible both the community and campus have recognized that they must work together.

 

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New technologies such as Intellicheck’s Age ID® are making enforcing age restrictions easier than ever.

But alcohol vendors in Oxford, Mississippi have expressed concerns over a new requirement to use such scanners.

From WMC Action News:

When you’re in a college town, everyone knows how to get a fake I.D., and technology can’t keep up.

Tuesday, Oxford city aldermen and Mayor Tannehill heard the concerns of bar and restaurant owners in the proposed downtown entertainment district.

In addition to paying for expensive I.D. scanners, it would also require 11 establishments in and around the court square to install multiple surveillance cameras, hire a security guard for every 50 people that enter a restaurant and bar, and provide detailed safety plans to police.

Most business owners at Tuesday’s meeting said the strict guidelines put them at a distinct disadvantage to other businesses outside the square.

The mayor is open to changes but she’s not willing to back down to making Oxford safe.

“Oxford, Mississippi, is a place where you can come and walk around the square with your family and you can go to bars at closing time and be in a safe environment,” Mayor Tannehill said.

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An Alcohol-Free Campus?

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A new study published in the Lancet medical journal concludes that alcohol is a health hazard — no matter how little is consumed.

Sarah Boseley in The Guardian reported:

Even the occasional drink is harmful to health, according to the largest and most detailed research carried out on the effects of alcohol, which suggests governments should think of advising people to abstain completely.

The uncompromising message comes from the authors of the Global Burden of Diseases study, a rolling project based at the University of Washington, in Seattle, which produces the most comprehensive data on the causes of illness and death in the world.

The University of Alabama’s policy on alcohol consumption by under-aged students now has a solid medical basis, beyond the restrictive laws against under aged drinkers.

Boseley’s article “No healthy level of alcohol consumption, says major study” had this to say about alcohol use:

Drinking alcohol was a big cause of cancer in the over-50s, particularly in women. Previous research has shown that one in 13 breast cancers in the UK were alcohol-related. The study found that globally, 27.1% of cancer deaths in women and 18.9% in men over 50 were linked to their drinking habits.

In younger people globally the biggest causes of death linked to alcohol were tuberculosis (1.4% of deaths), road injuries (1.2%), and self-harm (1.1%).

While the study shows that the increased risk of alcohol-related harm in younger people who have one drink a day is small (0.5%), it goes up incrementally with heavier drinking: to 7% among those who have two drinks a day and 37% for those who have five.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has published a fact sheet on college drinking:

Drinking at college has become a ritual that students often see as an integral part of their higher education experience. Many students come to college with established drinking habits, and the college environment can exacerbate the problem. According to a national survey, almost 60 percent of college students ages 18–22 drank alcohol in the past month, and almost 2 out of 3 of them engaged in binge drinking during that same timeframe.

 

The University of Alabama has a strict policy on alcohol use by its students:

Individuals under 21 years of age are not permitted to consume alcohol or be in possession of alcohol. Alcohol paraphernalia (which includes but is not limited to: empty beer cans or bottles, shot glasses, etc.) are prohibited and considered a violation of policy.

AlcoholPolicyMD has listed some of the dangers of under-aged  drinking:

Underage college drinkers are more likely than their of-age counterparts to suffer consequences ranging from unplanned sex, getting hurt or injured, requiring medial treatment for an alcohol overdose, and doing something they would later regret.

Yet there seems to be a disconnect between the University’s policy on alcohol consumption and practices encouraged by the institution of higher education.

If the concept of leading by example has any validity, then perhaps the University shouldn’t be hosting alumni events where alcohol is lavishly consumed. Even the proposed design for the football stadium’s renovation seems to to some great extent based on the facilitating of the use of alcoholic beverages by fans.

To the extent that a blind eye is turned towards Interfraternity social events where alcohol is served on campus there is inconsistency between the University’s policies and actual practice.

To achieve a healthy and safe environment for students at the University of Alabama, just as in the case of its having a smoke free campus, perhaps it is time to consider instituting an Alcohol-Free campus?

 

 

 

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The War Against The Greeks

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On at least one campus — West Virginia University (WVU) — fraternities may have out worn their welcome.

According an account in Inside Higher Ed “Going to War With Fraternities” by Jeremy Bauer-Wolf there is a battle being fought between the University’s administration and the Greeks on campus.

Bauer-Wolf wrote:

Threats by four West Virginia University fraternities to separate from the institution and operate independently have prompted President E. Gordon Gee to publicly urge students and parents to avoid the chapters.

The schism between university officials and the fraternities — Alpha Sigma Phi, Phi Sigma Kappa, Kappa Alpha and Sigma Chi — became apparent earlier this month, following the announcement of stricter new rules around Greek life. Most significantly, Gee deferred the first-year student rush process until the spring semester.

In February, Gee issued a moratorium on activities of the 16 fraternities that comprise the university’s Interfraternity Council, allowing only basic chapter operations and service events. This ban was not triggered by any particular incident, but rather a flurry of reports of alcohol abuse and sexual misconduct in Greek life in spring 2018. The report on the chapters — Reaching the Summit — found that in the last academic year, West Virginia sororities and fraternities were investigated for 29 incidents of alcohol or drug abuse, 18 physical fights, six hazing cases and four reports of sexual misconduct, among other conduct violations.

Around the time that Gee announced the moratorium, in February, other hazing deaths were dominating headlines. Fraternity pledges at four universities died in 2017 from alcohol overdoses in hazing incidents — at Louisiana State University, Florida State University, Texas State University and Pennsylvania State University. Criminal proceedings in those cases were the subject of much public scrutiny, and all four institutions enacted aggressive reforms in Greek life, starting with temporary bans of all Greek activities at Florida State, Louisiana State and Texas State and a stop on fraternity activities at Penn State.

There was a similar ban on Greek life at WVU four years ago, after a Sigma Kappa pledge died of alcohol poisoning.

Although the moratorium was lifted at the start of WVU’s academic year, the threat by  fraternities to operate independently of the University prompted President Gee to contact the parents of the Greek affiliated students about the fraternities’ threat of secession.

Bauer-Wolf reported:

Two fraternities, Phi Sigma Kappa (one of the chapters trying to secede from the university) and Sigma Alpha Mu, are suspended until fall 2020. Pi Kappa Alpha and Phi Gamma Delta are suspended indefinitely.

Other fraternities and sororities have faced individual sanctions, ranging from temporary or indefinite suspension to new restrictions on events. Two fraternities, Phi Sigma Kappa (one of the chapters trying to secede from the university) and Sigma Alpha Mu, are suspended until fall 2020. Pi Kappa Alpha and Phi Gamma Delta are suspended indefinitely.

 

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‘Til Death Do Us Part…

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Young adults in America are drinking themselves to death. The Institute for Heathcare Policy and Innovation  reported on a recent study by Elliot Tapper and Neehar Parikh:

The data published in the journal BMJ shows adults age 25-34 experienced the highest average annual increase in cirrhosis deaths — about 10.5 percent each year. The rise was driven entirely by alcohol-related liver disease, the authors say.

The research showed: It is hitting many states especially hard, namely Kentucky, Alabama, Arkansas and New Mexico, where cirrhosis deaths were highest.

If adults drink, United States dietary guidelines say men can safely consume up to two alcoholic drinks a day and women up to one drink a day. Although that threshold may need to be lower after a recent international study suggested just five drinks a week can shorten the lifespan.

The World Journal of Hepatology states that binge drinking has become a major health risk. It reports that “the excessive consumption of alcohol is the leading global cause of preventable morbidity and mortality…”

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has published a fact sheet on college drinking:

Drinking at college has become a ritual that students often see as an integral part of their higher education experience. Many students come to college with established drinking habits, and the college environment can exacerbate the problem. According to a national survey, almost 60 percent of college students ages 18–22 drank alcohol in the past month, and almost 2 out of 3 of them engaged in binge drinking during that same timeframe.

 

The University of Alabama has a strict policy on alcohol use by its students:

Individuals under 21 years of age are not permitted to consume alcohol or be in possession of alcohol. Alcohol paraphernalia (which includes but is not limited to: empty beer cans or bottles, shot glasses, etc.) are prohibited and considered a violation of policy.

The University’s policy doubtlessly is a responsible response to the dangers of under-aged drinking.

AlcoholPolicyMD has listed some of the dangers of under-aged  drinking:

Underage college drinkers are more likely than their of-age counterparts to suffer consequences ranging from unplanned sex, getting hurt or injured, requiring medial treatment for an alcohol overdose, and doing something they would later regret.

The new report on the increase in cirrhosis deaths should add more urgency to the prevention of alcohol use by under-aged drinkers.

 

 

 

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Bar codes

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Actually Alabama state forbids persons who are under nineteen years of age from being admitted into any establishment that serves alcohol. A patron may be admitted into a bar at the age of nineteen, although it would be against the law for alcohol to be served to anyone under the age of 21.

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Any establishment that serves alcohol is required to be licensed by the Alabama Beverage Control Board. There are three types of licenses: (1) 010 Lounge Retail, (2) 020 Restaurant Retail and (3) 031 Private Club.

Many of the minors who are admitted into bars in T-Town are University of Alabama students. The University, according to College Factual‘s The University of Alabama Student Age Diversity Breakdown, has 34.5% of its nearly forty thousand students in the 18-19 age group and 30.9% in the 20-21 age group.

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Since the total enrollment in 2017 was 38,563, that means that over 24,000 students can’t be legally provided with alcohol. Many cannot even be admitted into bars.

Enforcement of the restrictions on alcohol service are complicated not only by the large numbers of students that frequent bars in the campus vicinity but by the common use of fake IDs.

At a recent concert at Tuscaloosa’s Amphitheater a serving line was held up by one person who was belligerently insisting that he be served beer although he only had a rumpled, torn paper copy of a driver’s license. He left without being served, receiving a few dirty looks from people who had been forced to wait for several minutes until the situation was resolved. The Amphitheater server had been practicing due diligence. The individual seemed to not be used to that sort of thing.

Of course the University of Alabama has a clear policy on alcohol use:

Individuals under 21 years of age are not permitted to consume alcohol or be in possession of alcohol. Alcohol paraphernalia (which includes but is not limited to: empty beer cans or bottles, shot glasses, etc.) are prohibited and considered a violation of policy.

The bar codes when they are observed in T-Town promote public safety and result in a healthier community.

 

 

 

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Walking While Drunk?

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T-Town has seen few news stories about pedestrians being killed by vehicles. Considering the numbers of people who are walking under the influence of alcohol on football weekends and after patronizing the downtown’s bars it might seem that the community has led a charmed existence.

In a Pew Stateline article “Walking Drunk Can Be Deadly” Jenni Bergal reported:

Whether they’re emptying out of bars, going home from football watch parties, or trying to get across the highway, drunken walkers are dying in traffic crashes nationwide at alarming numbers.

A third of pedestrians killed in crashes in 2016 were over the legal limit, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That’s nearly 2,000 people — up more than 300 since 2014.

Being drunk can impact your judgment and reaction time and result in poor decision-making and risky behavior, such as crossing an intersection against the light or cutting across a road mid-block, safety experts say. You may not even be thinking about whether drivers can see you.

Doubtlessly, the University of Alabama’s policy on drinking expresses a concern over the consequences of students consuming alcohol:

The University recognizes that alcohol in and of itself is not an illegal substance, however, the abuse and misuse of alcohol and other drugs can cause significant harm to individuals and/or groups, the University community and the community at large. The University values a safe and welcoming community.

Individuals under 21 years of age are not permitted to consume alcohol or be in possession of alcohol. Alcohol paraphernalia (which includes but is not limited to: empty beer cans or bottles, shot glasses, etc.) are prohibited and considered a violation of policy. Individuals over the age of 21 may consume alcohol in designated areas on campus in a safe and responsible manner.

Many of the students who are involved with law enforcement in T-Town are minors who have been in bars. Yet it seems that the only students who make the headlines over altercations in bars are athletes.

A student who was chased down the street by police officers from Innisfree Irish Pub after being involved in a fight was eventually drug off a roof of a house in Tuscaloosa’s Historical District. He received no publicity. He was an under-aged drinker who ended up the drunk tank but not in the newspaper. Residents of the area who live near T-Town’s downtown have told all sorts of horror stories involving inebriated students who have caused property damage and invaded their homes.

When there is an incident reported of a pedestrian being killed in T-Town by a vehicle, the details about the victim’s age and sobriety are not part of the story.

Tuscaloosa has a Downtown Entertainment District where pedestrians may openly carry alcoholic beverages on certain days during certain hours. The city must have had  considered the cost of law enforcement before establishing the district. As yet no injuries of pedestrians in traffic have made the headlines.

The article by Jenni Bergal dealt with how to prevent pedestrian deaths that are related to drinking:

There aren’t many educational campaigns alerting people about the risk of alcohol impairment when walking or bicycling, the study found, and more research is needed to figure out how to prevent such deaths.

Among the  [Insurance Institute for Highway Safety] study’s recommendations: lowering speed limits, improving roadway lighting, and marketing ride-hailing services to pedestrians and bicyclists, just as they do for drivers who have had too much to drink.

Safety experts say states also need to broaden their anti-drunken-driving campaigns to encourage pedestrians and bicyclists to opt for alternatives after heavy drinking.

Some pedestrian advocates caution that officials need to be careful not to send out a message that blames the victims, who have tried to do the right thing by not getting behind the wheel when they’ve had too much to drink.

Instead, the priority should be on designing safer roadways, which will influence drivers’ behavior and curb speeds where people are walking, said Brendan Kearney, a spokesman for WalkBoston.

Adkins said that while drivers and pedestrians have a shared responsibility to minimize risks, roads should be re-engineered to include pedestrian medians, barriers and bridges to create a safe system for pedestrians and drivers.

Perhaps the City of Tuscaloosa should modify its Entertainment District to accommodate pedestrians who are endangered by alcohol consumption?

Stronger enforcement of the laws against alcohol sales to minors, many of whom are students, would be in keeping with the University of Alabama’s policies. This would also result in far fewer pedestrians who are impaired by alcohol consumption.

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