This is the VOA Special
English Education Report.
The legal age for drinking alcohol in the United States is twenty-one.
Underage drinking is a crime but also a common part of college social life. This
week in our Foreign Student Series, we look at alcohol policies at American
colleges and universities.
Never too young: A drunk-driving accident is acted out for students at a high
school near Los Angeles as part of alcohol education efforts
Never too young:
A drunk-driving accident is acted out at a high school north of Los Angeles as
part of alcohol education efforts
These policies differ from school to
school, as do enforcement efforts. But many schools have been moving to
strengthen their rules.
The United States has more than seventeen million
students in higher education. Each year, 1,700 of them age 18 to 24 die
from alcohol-related road crashes and other injuries.
600,000 more are injured while under the influence of alcohol. And almost
700,000 are attacked by another student who has been drinking.
These numbers, from a two thousand five report, are on a government Web site:
One behavior that college officials are trying to prevent is binge drinking,
having four or five drinks or more in a short period of time. Some researchers
have found that students who think binge drinking is normal often overestimate
how much other students really drink. A person can die of alcohol poisoning.
At the University of Oklahoma, new policies went into effect
after a 19-year-old student died in 2004. He had been drinking
heavily at a fraternity party.
Now alcohol is banned from all fraternity and sorority houses and university
housing. Student organizations can serve alcohol at events but only on Friday
and Saturday nights. And they must provide for transportation to and from
off-campus parties. Other new requirements include an alcohol education program
that first-year students take online.
The policies govern behavior on campus and off. With a first violation,
students pay seventy-five dollars and their parents are told. They must also
take an alcohol education class. For a second "strike," they have to pay one
hundred fifty dollars. A third strike means a suspension for at least one
Since January of two thousand five, six hundred thirty-three students have
had a first strike. Thirty have had a second strike -- and one has been
suspended. An official at Oklahoma tells us the aim is not just to punish but to
change behavior and the culture at the university.
And that's the VOA Special English Education Report, written by Nancy
Steinbach. Transcripts and audio files of our Foreign Student Series are at
voaspecialenglish.com. I'm Steve Ember.
fraternity and sorority :