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U.Va. Teleconference To Address Binge Drinking

March 9, 2000 -- Area residents as well as University of Virginia students, faculty and staff can call in and speak up about binge drinking, the nation's number-one campus health problem, during a live teleconference Thursday, March 16. The conference, "Binge Drinking: From Understanding to Action," can be viewed at Zehmer Hall Auditorium from 1 to 4 p.m.

The teleconference will feature four panelists broadcast live from the University of South Carolina. Charlottesville viewers will be able to phone in their questions or offer comments from Zehmer Hall. Panelists will describe the scope of the problem as well as the history and impact of binge drinking on campuses and communities. Panelists will also address the short- and long-term impact on drinkers, the role of campus administrators in curbing the problem and education efforts.

Panelists will include John Gardner, senior fellow of the National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition at U.S.C.; Henry Wechsler, principal investigator of the College Alcohol Studies Program at the Harvard School of Public Health; and Sharon Wilsnack, the Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences. Dr. James C. Turner, director of the U.Va. Department of Student Health, will also participate.

The conference also features a taped interview with U.Va. President John T. Casteen III. He will address the role of universities and their presidents in adopting initiatives to curtail binge drinking.

Recent studies have confirmed a large presence of binge drinking on college campuses. Nearly half of all college students engage in binge drinking, considered to be five or more drinks in a row for men, and four or more for women. A spring 1999 U.Va. Health Behaviors Survey indicated that 54 percent of U.Va. students engaged in binge drinking in the two weeks prior to the survey. Of students who have used alcohol in the past, 28.1 percent reported frequent binge drinking.

Binge drinking has a negative effect on college campuses, according to U.S.C. officials. Students have lost the chance of academic success, suffered significant health problems and died because of dangerous drinking habits. Binge drinking can weaken the intellectual fabric of campuses by inhibiting student learning and contributing to student attrition.

"We’re trying to get as many people as possible to realize binge drinking and its effects are far-reaching," said Marianne Bell, a health educator with U.Va.'s Center for Alcohol and Substance Education (CASE). "Though faculty and staff may not interact with students in an alcohol setting, it is important for them to be aware of the problem."

Part of the 2000 Teleconference Series, the conference is presented by the National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition at U.S.C. At U.Va., it is sponsored by the Office of the Vice-President for Student Affairs, CASE and the Department of Student Health, in conjunction with the State and Regional Coalition Grant Competition to Prevent High-Risk Drinking Among College Students and the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

The conference is free and open to the public. However, those who wish to watch the teleconference should call CASE at (804) 924-5276 to reserve a spot.

For more information, contact Marianne Bell at (804) 982-0704 or at mbb5d@virginia.edu.

Contact: Jill Johnson, (804) 924-7116

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: please contact the Office of University Relations at (804) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (804) 924-7550.
SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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