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Archive for Tuesday, November 10, 1998

IMPACTS

November 10, 1998

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The joint City-Universities Task Force will meet later this month with the idea of forming general recommendations.

Armed with a wealth of fresh statistics, a task force formed to combat underage alcohol abuse on Monday outlined the pervasiveness of the problem in Lawrence.

Generally, about 40 percent of college dropouts attribute their failures to alcohol problems, Kansas University Provost David Shulenburger said. At KU, students reporting a C grade-point average said they have 10 drinks every week. For those in the D or F range, the number jumps to 25 a week.

And more than half of KU and Haskell Indian Nations University students reported binge drinking -- having five or more drinks in one sitting -- within the previous two weeks.

More than half of the KU students surveyed reported driving a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.

Bruce Beale, DCCCA director said, "This type of drinking, which is abusive drinking, is becoming kind of the norm."

In the public schools, almost 5 percent of sixth-graders said they had had participated in binge drinking, compared to 6.4 percent of eighth-graders and 12.9 percent of sophomores and juniors.

When informed of those statistics, "most people wouldn't believe any sixth-grade could drink that much, " said Diane Ash, the Lawrence school district's substance abuse prevention specialist.

The statistics were culled from Lawrence public schools, KU and Haskell over the past several weeks.

In response to the findings, KU announced plans to meet with 17 of the campus's 24 fraternities without alcohol bans; create new "zero-tolerance" enforcement of alcohol policies in residence and scholarship halls; apply for a Kansas Health Foundation grant for alcohol education programs and stop selling beer in the Kansas Union.

The task force as a whole will meet again Nov. 23. It plans to make general recommendations regarding alcohol policy to city and university leaders by mid-December.

Chuck Magerl, owner of Free State Brewery, 636 Mass., said preventing underage drinking is an "impossible task" because the law treats people under 21 as if they aren't smart enough to make the right decisions about alcohol.

Karen Dutcher, KU general counsel, said the reality is that the law won't change anytime soon, and that underage students should be reminded that it's simply illegal to drink.

-- Matt Gowen's phone message number is 832-7222. His e-mail address is mgowen@ljworld.com.

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