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Alcohol still top health risk to college students

College students and beers November 23, 1998
Web posted at: 7:51 p.m. EST (0051 GMT)

From Correspondent Bill Delaney

BOSTON (CNN) -- Despite some high-profile deaths and years of "drink responsibly" campaigns, alcohol remains the No. 1 health risk to college students, according to alcohol abuse experts.

On average, 50 students die from drinking every year. And the epidemic of on- and off-campus "binge drinking," defined as putting down five drinks at one sitting for young men or four for young women, continues. A recent Harvard study concludes that 44 percent of college students binge drink.

"It is not simply enough to tell them not to engage in high- risk drinking," said Bill DeJong of the Center for Alcohol and Drug Prevention. "Presidents need to say 'Yes, this is a priority' in order to provide a safe environment."

DeJong also said colleges will have to curb binge drinking to stay competitive in the academic marketplace.

"Parents are not going to be willing to send their students to schools that they feel pose a risk to their children's lives," he said.

Scott Krueger
Scott Krueger  

The parents of Scott Krueger are suing the Massachusetts Institute of Technology fraternity their son was pledging when he died after a drinking binge last September. Krueger consumed an estimated 15 shots in an hour.

"We sent our son to MIT for five weeks and came down here and picked him up in a box and took him back in the back of my station wagon," says Scott's mother, Darlene Krueger.

MIT has had more alcohol-related problems since Krueger's death. Now, one fraternity there is going alcohol-free. Phi Delta Theta goes on the wagon nationwide in 2000.

"The reason that our national fraternity did it really," said Phi Delta Theta member Mark Histed, "is to get away from the focus on alcohol, in the fraternities, and move toward a focus on friendship, on brotherhood."

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