What Has UMD Done to Decrease Alcohol Abuse Among Students? Blog Article #7

INTRODUCTION

As pointed out in my first blog post, college students have a track record of overdoing it with alcohol. Things are no different at the University of Maryland. Fortunately, campus authorities have already taken several steps to alleviate the problem. In this post, I’m going to tell you about some of the solutions that have been implemented to help prevent and resolve alcohol abuse on campus.

ALCOHOL EDUCATION

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Source: Click Here

If you started at UMD as a freshman, you may remember this alcohol education program. called AlcoholEdu, that you had to complete during your first semester at the university. As a transfer student, I didn’t know about this until stumbling upon it as part of my research. Upon looking into the program, I expected it to be cheesy and preachy. Surprisingly, it is just the opposite. The online program tailors itself to each individual student based on things like drinking behaviors and level of awareness. The way the course is laid out changes based on how risky of a drinker you are. The learning interface is really good and not overly dull. The program is split into two parts so that you get reminded about what you learned as events like Homecoming and Halloween parties roll around. Overall, this program has both increased students knowledge and awareness about alcohol while also acting as a way to gather data to initiate and substantiate further research. Clearly though, educating incoming freshman about drinking has not fully resolved the alcohol abuse problem on campus.

HELP FOR TROUBLED STUDENTS

The University Health Center has this page, and others like it, available for students dealing with substance abuse. This source helps you determine if you, or someone you know, has problems with alcohol and what steps you can take to remediate the problem. Further links within this website make it easy to find out more if you need to. This was easy enough to find via a google search so it is definitely accessible to students. The University Health Center also has program called UMD weekends. You can sign up to get weekly emails about alcohol-free weekend events at UMD.

Breaking the Law

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FAILING POLICY

Though I understand that its a bit of a legal formality, this UMD web page about the campus Drug and Alcohol Abuse Policy is almost humorous. To quote one of the policies listed, “this policy prohibits the possession or use of alcohol by any student under the age of 21 or furnishing of alcohol to a person known to be under the age of 21.” I honestly laughed a little inside when I saw that. As a student at UMD, I know that this policy, among many others like it, is violated on a daily basis. Enforcing strict laws like this is difficult though. Therefore, either the policy itself or the implementation of it needs changing.

DISCUSSION

Educating students about drinking is only one solution to decreasing alcohol abuse at UMD. There is more that can be done. Fortunately for now, help is available for students who know, or at least think, that they have a problem. Though brute law enforcement certainly isn’t the answer, the policy on alcohol use at UMD is almost pointless as it is violated nearly 24/7 by students all over campus. What do you think? Would creating a new, better-enforceable policy be a solution to the problem?

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Underage Drinking: Is 21 the Right Age? Blog Article #6

INTRODUCTION

While doing research for this blog post, I came across a great video from the CBS news show 60 Minutes.This video is a debate on lowering the drinking age in the U.S. Both sides of the argument are presented well in the video. For example, if the drinking age were lowered, underage college students would probably be quicker to call for medical help when things get out of hand; however, it will likely do very little to make college students more knowledgeable and more responsible about alcohol abuse.

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U.S. DRINKING AGE

The U.S. drinking age was originally raised in 1984 after the National Minimum Drinking Age Act was signed by President Ronald Reagan. Only eleven other countries have a minimum drinking age as high as the U.S. More than 80% of the world’s countries have a drinking age lower than 21. After prohibition in the rolling twenties, alcohol was re-legalized in the U.S. Then, in the late ’60s and early ’70s, the legal drinking age was lowered to 18 in most states. This quickly resulted in an increase in drunk-driving and alcohol-related motor accidents. Reagan’s law resolved this problem to some extent as it decreased drunk driving accidents by about 50%. Countless debates, such as the one I linked to in the introduction, have persisted ever since. If you’re underage now, hopefully your luck won’t be as bad as Bad Luck Brian’s.

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Source: Click Here

OTHER COUNTRIES

In many European countries (source), where the minimum drinking age is 18, a greater percentage of young people drink more frequently; however, the number of dangerous intoxication incidences that occur is much lower. In these countries with lower drinking ages, only about 10% of drinking occasions result in the person getting drunk. Conversely, in the U.S, when young people drink, about half of drinking incidences end in intoxication. Why does this happen? In low drinking age countries, parents are responsible for regulating the amount of alcohol their children consume. This helps young people get an idea of what alcohol does to them and how much they can handle before they go out to drink on their own. Young Americans do not get this opportunity because it is considered unethical (it’s slightly illegal…) to get alcohol for underage people.

DISCUSSION

I am not necessarily advocating for the drinking age to be reduced in this country; however, there are a lot of good arguments fighting for the case. If 18-year-olds can be in the military, vote, serve on jury duty, get married, and buy guns, why, then, are they not fit to purchase, or at least consume, alcohol? It has been argued, as I discussed in my my second blog post, that before the age of 21, your brain is still developing and alcohol can adversely affect it more so than it would an adult. Additionally, just like what happened in the ’60s when the drinking age was lowered, drunk driving incidents could increase significantly if 18-year-olds were once again legally allowed to drink. The argument can easily go both ways. I will end with this though. According to the Diamondback, the student newspaper at UMD, the UMD police department, and other college officials, are more concerned about irresponsible drinking, such as binge-drinking, than underage drinking.

What do you guys think the drinking age should be in the U.S.? Should it be lowered or stay the same?

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