View Full Version : Colleges Seek A Balance On Drinking

08-28-2006, 12:04 AM
A Duke senior, who requested not to be identified, stands near the clock tower on West Campus with a mixed drink in one hand and a "beer belt" around her waist April 26, 2006, in Durham, N.C., on the last day of classes.

Freshman John Kunemund knows that life on campus at Duke University will include being exposed to alcohol — whether or not he is the one doing the drinking.

"The administrators have to keep a check on students, because if the students can just do whatever they want, I'm sure alcohol will be brought anywhere," said Kunemund, an 18-year-old from Jacksonville, Fla.

The start of the academic year is reviving the debate over alcohol's place on campus: How much can — and should — a school do to monitor students' drinking habits? And how much responsibility lies with students, many of them away from home for the first time?

The debate got plenty of attention at Duke in the spring, when three members of the men's lacrosse team were charged with assaulting a stripper at an alcohol-soaked team party off campus.

But it's an issue for schools across the country, not just this elite private school in central North Carolina.

"Almost every problematic student behavior issue has at its roots the overconsumption of alcohol," said Sheldon Steinbach, general counsel for the Washington-based American Council on Education, a higher-education lobbying group that lists Duke among its membership of 1,800 accredited colleges and universities. "There are lots of approaches, and schools apply them all. ... Yet the reality is that when a student becomes excessively intoxicated, all the instruction they may have had rapidly disappears."

Schools have tried a variety of remedies.

According to a study published in 2004 (http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/cas/) by the Harvard School of Public Health, 34 percent of colleges surveyed two years earlier said alcohol was not permitted on campus for students of any age, while 43 percent banned alcohol in campus residence halls. And at least 11 of 70 national fraternities have banned alcohol in their campus houses.