A large price to pay

A new report released earlier this month said approximately 1,400 deaths and 700,000 sexual assaults, all alcohol related, occur each year – a trend that is only getting worse. Drinking among American college students has resulted in many other consequences, too, according to the report released by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

The NIAAA developed a task force in 1998 to examine these dangerous effects and consequences that are caused by alcohol. Mark Goldman, a USF psychology professor and co-chair for the task force, worked with 15 college presidents and 17 other researchers who have worked in the field of psychology and alcoholism to help change the culture of drinking on campus.

“We spent three years reviewing literature, reports on alcohol use in college and we also looked at the efforts that were trying to be made in drinking in college,” Goldman said.

The drinking consequences are not limited to students who drink. More than 600,000 students between the ages of 18 to 24 are assaulted by another student who was drinking. Also, 400,000 students had unprotected sex, and more than 100,000 were too intoxicated to know whether they consented to have intercourse.

“The consequences of excessive drinking are far too common on many college campuses nationwide, and efforts to reduce high-risk drinking and its related problems have largely failed,” Goldman said.

Goldman worked alongside Rev. Edward Malloy, president for the University of Notre Dame. Both Goldman and Malloy were a part of the National Advisory Council on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and were then appointed to the task force. The task force created two panels, the Panel on Contexts and Consequences and the Panel on Prevention and Treatment.

Goldman said one of the main reasons for the interest in the task force was because of recent reports pertaining to problems concerning college drinking.

“In recent years there has been a few public and media announcements with drinking,” Goldman said. “One, for example, was a student who died at (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) MIT due to alcohol influence.”

According to a related article in the Washington Post, the new national estimates of alcohol-related deaths and injuries show that the consequences of heavy drinking by some students are far greater than previously understood.

The Harvard School of Public Health College Alcohol Study (CAS) conducts an ongoing survey of over 15,000 students at 140 four-year colleges in 40 states each year. The CAS examines high-risk behaviors, such as heavy drinking and smoking among college students.

The 2001 rates of binge drinking at 119 CAS colleges were remarkably similar to those found at the same institutions in 1993, 1997 and 1999. Nationally two out of five undergraduate college students were binge drinkers – a statistic that hasn’t changed since 1993.

Approximately 31 percent of college students responding to a national survey in 1999 accepted criteria for a diagnosis of alcohol abuse, according to a new study by the Harvard researchers cited in the report by the NIAAA’s task force.

Emanuel Donchin, chair for the Department of Psychology at USF, said Goldman has been investigating the issues of alcoholism for a long time and deserved the position of co-chair for the task force.

“He is one of the top scholars in this city and in the country on the subject,” Donchin said. “It was only natural to have picked him because he has a large body of research to his credit.”

Goldman has worked on several research projects that were provided federal funding. He is also board certified in clinical psychology and a member of the American Psychological Association’s physiological division and the neuropsychology division. Goldman has also served as an editor on many journal boards that deal with alcoholism and psychology.

Donchin said with all his credentials, he is a distinguished professor at USF.

“He teaches graduate and undergraduate students,” Donchin said. “He has a very large and well-respected program with research in alcoholism.”

Goldman said the task force came out with a report on April 9 and mailed a copy of the report to every college in the United States for review. The report included strategies for dealing with the problem within the college community, as well.

“What everyone has to do is get on the same page,” Goldman said.

Goldman said with USF being so close to Ybor City there should be some way that the university and the business owners can work together.

Terry Gordon, lieutenant for the University Police, said that USF’s alcohol-related arrests have been few this semester. From Jan. 1 to April 7, there were six arrests for underage possession of alcohol, 12 arrests for driving under the influence, and there were no arrests for zero tolerance. Zero tolerance is an administrative charge that goes against a student’s driver’s license.

“If a student is driving in the car and is up to the age of 21 and is not so intoxicated but found with alcohol in their system, it is zero tolerance,” Gordon said.

Gordon said zero tolerance is not as bad as a DUI charge, but the student has to go through an administrative hearing and gets points on his or her license if under the age of 21.

“We are trying to keep kids from drinking underage,” Gordon said.

UP hands out pamphlets to students and their parents at orientation, Gordon said. The pamphlet, Century Council, is made up of a bunch of beverage distributors that target parents.

“They give them advice on what they need to ask and tell their child before entering their first year in college,” Gordon said.The NIAAA task force report also makes recommendations on a variety of strategies to prevent student alcohol abuse. They also urge that more research should be conducted.

The task force developed what it calls a “Three-in-One framework” that encourages the universities to consider the broad effects of college drinking. The framework is a four-tier plan that rates prevention efforts from effective to ineffective.

Goldman said the force wants to make sure that it not just provides information to colleges but also implements concrete programs to help the universities.

“We want to kick off a process that would put something in place to have colleges have researchers examine the new programs and measure that the program works,” Goldman said.

“We want a more constructive process.”