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Alcohol on Campus

This series of four pieces examines alcohol abuse among college students: what students say about how and why they drink, how colleges in our region respond, and the latest research and theories on alcohol abuse and prevention. It includes the voices of students and community residents, police and doctors, as well as college administrators and national experts.

The series was produced as part of a year long project on youth substance abuse, Under Our Influence, which was part of the national Sound Partners radio project. Funding for Sound Partners was provided by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, via The Benton Foundation.

Listen to part 1 (4:56)
In 1997, Binaya Oja, a Clarkson University freshman, died after a fraternity drinking party. It was only one of a series of similar deaths across the nation, and the continuing reports made "binge drinking" a familiar catch phrase. Research shows the rate of binge drinkers on campuses remains fairly steady at 40 percent. A much heralded Harvard School of Public Health College Alcohol Study called heavy drinking "by far the most serious public health problem facing American colleges." We take a hard look at alcohol on area campuses. Aired 2/15/99

Listen to part 2 (7:31)
In Part 1 we heard stories of campus alcohol abuse and its consequences in the St. Lawrence Valley. Alcohol abuse is an enduring campus tradition—one that challenges students to take responsibility for themselves, and colleges to keep students safe and legal. In this segment, reporter John Roberts explores students say about why they drink, and how area colleges respond to their drinking. Aired 2/16/99

Listen to part 3 (6:06)
Part 2 discussed what area colleges are doing to combat alcohol abuse on campus. They've focused on the traditional strategies: education, intervention, and enforcement. And there's little doubt that these are necessary parts of the equation. But with the numbers of college drinkers holding fairly steady and the number of alcohol-related injuries on the rise, new thinking is emerging. In part 3 of our series, John Roberts looks at the most recent research on college alcohol abuse, and a new, non-traditional approach to prevention. Aired 2/17/99

Listen to part 4 (5:50)
Colleges are asked to walk a fine line: Is it the school's responsibility to enforce a zero tolerance policy toward alcohol use? —or should policies acknowledge student drinking and instead focus on protecting their safety. In Part 3, we examined a non-traditional approach. The strategy works to change students' perceptions of drinking incidence by focusing on the fact that most students don't drink heavily. It's brought down drinking levels at schools that have adopted it—but what of the law, and zero tolerance approaches to prevention? Aired 2/18/99


John Roberts and Martha Foley won an award for Special Merit, Local Public Affairs Programming, from the National Federation of Community Broadcasters for their work on this series.

John Roberts won First Place, Local Documentary or Series, from the New York State Associated Press Broadcasters Association.