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College Official: Don’t Ask Us to Solve Student Drinking

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Binge and underage drinking are societal problems that college officials can’t be expected to solve, according to a speaker at the annual meeting of the American College Health Association (ACHA).

USA Today reported June 4 that Edward P. Ehlinger, head of the Boynton Health Service at the University of Minnesota, said that current efforts to combat dangerous drinking among college students aren’t working. “I don’t think the problem of alcohol is an underage problem. It is not a college or university problem,” he said. “I think alcohol is a community problem — it is a societal problem.”

“We need to be humble about the fact we don’t know what the heck we’re doing and we need to do something different,” he added.

Rather than looking for new programs or lowering the drinking age, Ehlinger said schools need to work with government and businesses to change how Americans view alcohol use. He argued that the alcohol industry knows that campus-based interventions don’t work, which is why they support groups like the National Social Norms Institute — a group that happens to be headed by the current president of the ACHA.

Ehlinger said that government should raise taxes on alcohol and that the alcohol industry should stop advertising at sporting events. “These aren’t things that can be done by colleges alone,” he said.

College presidents also need to make student drinking more of a priority, said Ehlinger.

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