Lehigh University
Lehigh University


Numbers drop in College Alcohol Study

The ability of underage Lehigh students to get alcohol without showing an ID at off-campus bars and clubs has dropped 37 percent in just six years, according to the newly-released College Alcohol Study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health.

The College Alcohol Study also shows an 18 percent decline in the number of underage students who received alcohol from someone under the age of 21 and a 23 percent drop in the number of underage students who made alcohol purchases without being carded. Students reported a 7 percent drop in getting hurt or injured while drinking, a 6 percent decrease in doing something that they regretted while drinking, and a 6 percent drop in getting behind in school work as a result of alcohol.

Lehigh also saw a decrease in the negative second-hand effects on others by students who had been drinking. Students reported a 16 percent drop in being pushed, hit or assaulted, a 7 percent decline in "babysitting" a drunken student, and a 7 percent decrease in property damage.

Lehigh was aided in the transformation of its campus culture by a strong campus-community partnership, says John Smeaton, vice-provost for student affairs and director of the "A Matter of Degree" Program that is designed to foster a safer and healthier environment while addressing the problems of abusive drinking.

"The campus-community collaboration has helped to foster responsible hospitality practices and other successful initiatives," Smeaton says. "Lehigh and its neighbors are a safer and healthier community for it."

Percentage of underage students able to get alcohol without showing ID

Lehigh’s aggressive approach to addressing the problems associated with high risk drinking dates back to 1996, when it became one of only 10 universities nationwide selected by the Robert Wood Johnson (RWJ) Foundation to receive a five-year grant to build a campus-community coalition to address the issue. With a four-year grant renewal from the RWJ foundation in September 2001, Lehigh’s "A Matter of Degree" Program continues that work.

Interventions such as the Responsible Alcohol Management Program (RAMP), provided through a partnership between the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board and Lehigh’s A Matter of Degree program, have also been key to the change.

At two recent RAMP trainings, for example, 27 owners/managers from 15 local establishments received an overview of current and pending legislation, liability concerns, carding practices and guidelines on writing a house policy. The voluntary RAMP training provides many incentives to managers/owners such as a possible reduction in fines and penalties if they incur a violation; knowledgeable, responsible and well-trained service staff and management; and recognition as a responsible licensee in the community.

Other interventions include community policing, birthday lists that confirm the age of potential patrons, a community liaison, landlord ordinances, and the "Everything You Needed to Know to Live Off-Campus" brochure that details the rules, regulations and safety tips of the university.

--Sarah Suh

Posted on Wednesday, August 27, 2003

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