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U-Wire: U. Connecticut students drinking more than national counterparts

Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday October 23, 2002

STORRS, Conn. In a recent alcohol and drug study conducted by the Core Institute of Southern Illinois University, the University of Connecticut's percentage rates were much higher than the national statistic on most alcohol-related questions.

Funded by the U.S. Department of Education, 400 UConn students were randomly selected in the spring of 2002 to participate in the survey. Of the 400 surveys that were sent out to be completed, 117 came back, a return rate of 31.2 percent, which is higher than the national average.

The National Probability Sample is administered to collect baseline data to measure the level of alcohol use across the country, Jennifer Whiting, M.S.Ed., who is responsible for services offered by the Institute, said.

According to Whiting, "These surveys are utilized by institutions to interpret the data and as a guideline for targeting their problem issues."

Ed Pimentel, a researcher at the Core Institute, said that because of the large number of colleges entered into the survey, the sample size does not have to be very large for their purposes.

"We take lots of samples from lots of different colleges, and for our purposes, a large sample from one particular college is not needed. A sample of 400 students surveyed would be sufficient for up to 40,000 students in a given institution."

Of UConn students surveyed, 91.3 percent consumed alcohol in the past year, compared to 74.6 percent of the national average. Approximately 20 percent more students reported binge drinking at UConn than students nationally.

Another statistic noted that 64.9 percent of students believe the social atmosphere at UConn "very much promotes alcohol use."

Nationally, only 16.9 percent believed this to be true.

Sixty percent reported some kind of public misconduct, ranging from vandalism to driving while intoxicated, as a result of drinking or drug use, compared to only 43.5 percent nationally.

These results do not conclude that UConn has a drinking problem.

"The northeast region historically has higher incidents of drinking behaviors than the rest of the nation," Pimentel states.

However, this does not rationalize that this study, which surveyed less than one percent of the campus population, is accurate enough to determine the extent of UConn's drug and alcohol problem.

Maj. Ron Blicher of the UConn Police force said, "We diligently enforce the alcohol policy on campus, along with the laws of the state of Connecticut."

Within the first month and a half of this semester, there was a 36 percent increase of arrests for DUI and a 33 percent increase of liquor-law violations, which suggests that the UConn Police has stepped up their efforts in enforcing policies on campus.

Students on the whole are not surprised by the survey results.

"We're in the middle of cow country! What do they expect? It's hard for students to find something to do with their time besides drink around here," Megan Rudne, a 5th-semester fine arts major, laughed and said. "Until they find that, they get drunk instead."

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