In yet another attempt to curtail dangerous drinking behavior on a college campus, Boston University announced recently that it will be using its campus police department to crack down on alcohol violations. University officials stated that students under age 21 found in possession of alcohol will be arrested. It was approximately 6 months ago that BU suspended one of its fraternities for hosting an off campus party where an underage student died from an apparent alcohol overdose.
Colleges have been working steadily to reduce the amount of harmful drinking that occurs in this setting. Although the expectation by many students is that heavy drinking is normal in college, data shows that this is not true. Less than 20% of college students meet the criteria for alcohol abuse or dependence. However, each year an estimated 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, including motor vehicle crashes.
It is actually possible to attend college and not drink. A growing number of colleges have been implementing sober dorms. St. Cloud State, Southern Methodist, NYU, Augsburg, Texas Tech and Rutgers are among some of the schools in the US with established sober dorms and robust sobriety programs for students in recovery.
The Red Watch Band program, developed by Stony Brook University in New York is another effort to reduce underage drinking, and its dangerous effects on college campuses. This program trains peer leaders who make themselves available at campus parties to assist with people who have had too much to drink. This “harm reduction” approach is not intended to prevent underage drinking altogether but rather to guard underage drinkers form any harmful effects. It was developed by a college administrator whose son died from an alcohol overdose.