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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (April 20, 1999)
Bar owners attest to binge drinking problem
BINGE from page 1
any one evening spent at the bars, or, in some cases,
even drink that much while spending time at home.
For Damien Wright, a sophomore English major,
the only time he has partaken in “binge drinking” was
on his bar crawl.
Since his crawl March 5, Wright has been back to
the bars only three or four times.
“For one thing, it’s expensive,” he said. “I don’t
enjoy it that much on weekends, just because there
are too many people and it’s too crowded.
“I just end up sitting with my friends anyway,
which I can do anywhere and not spend a dollar on
Wright didn’t think of binge drinking when he
was at the bars watching people.
“There are always one or two who are hammered
and being obnoxious and falling all over the place,”
he said. “For me, binge drinking is reserved for the
But unlike Wright, many UNL students do spend
their weekends frequenting the numerous taverns lin
ing the streets throughout downtown.
Most of them don’t think they are binge drinkers.
Hie bar culture
The excursion into the promised land called O
Street on a Friday night is an experience in itself.
Line upon line of students high on the vibe of die
weekend wait outside in the rain or under a clear,
moonlit sky to enhance their moods with the help of
a cheap drink, a cheap shot or a pitcher of Old Style.
Julie Riviera, a senior fashion merchandising
major, and Jill Krohn, a senior business management
major, braved the spitting rain and cold wind Friday
to wait in line outside Woody’s Pub, 101N. 14* St
“The main reason I go to die bars is to socialize
with friends,” Riviera said, laughing.
“You’re full of shit,” Krohn responded, also
Both Riviera and Krohn expected to drink an esti
mated six drinks while at the bar Friday, but also said
they would probably only drink that much on a week
Riviera said when she thinks of a binge drinker,
she visualizes “those old guys at Iguana’s,” and
Krohn added “someone who drinks a case.”
Both girls have been able to legally drink for two
years, and Riviera did have a bar crawl, because, she
said, it was tradition.
Ryan Reuter, a senior agriculture education
major, estimated that he goes to the bars twice a week
“I’d say that I drink about 10 drinks when I go
out,” Reuter said.
Reuter, who was attending a bar-hopping bache
lor party Friday night, didn’t consider himself a heavy
“I go pretty much for the social part,” he said.
“My professors read this so I’m not going to say how
many drinks I’ve had tonight”
Reuter wasn’t sure why binge drinking has gar
nered so much attention lately.
“I think for some people, the idea of binge drink
ing is a problem, but for the most part, I’d have to say
I don’t think it is.”
Todd Mausbach, owner of The Brass Rail, 1436
0 St, said he sees about five to 10 students per week
end night who quality as “intoxicated.”
“We don’t let those people in the door,”
Mausbach said. “We don’t need to take a chance let
ting someone on the borderline in the door because
we have 50 more people waiting outside in line,” he
Reg McMeen, owner of Duffy’s Tavern, 1412 O
St, said that within the last month his establishment
has turned away more customers than usual on week
He said about six to seven patrons per night have
been turned away at the door for being too drunk, and
about three to four drinkers inside the bar have been
asked to leave because of intoxication.
Those numbers, McMeen said, were up from an
old average of about three or four people being asked
to leave or being turned away.
“It’s been bad lately,” he said. “I have no idea
McMeen thought one reason may be because his
staff as a whole was more in tune to the signs of intox
JUNIOR COMPUTER SCIENCE MAJOR DAMIEN WRIGHT still can’t decipher
some of what he mete on Ms drink list near the end of his bar crawl March 5.
ication, but he said it mostly stemmed from the heat
on local bars to curb binge drinking.
Frosty Chapman, director of the Nebraska Liquor
Control Commission, said the state of Nebraska,
when granting a liquor license, does expect the
licensee to comply with certain requirements.
“They are responsible r >r+ain activities within
their establishment, L i
avoiding serving minors m
“Are they responsible
But they are responsible I
the laws of the state.”
Violations for bars tin
According to the N>
Council’s violations penal*
minor and sales to an inn
bar’s license being suSpen
days, and a maximum fun
Successive offenses i
oubled fines and
longer suspensions anu can eventually cause an
establishment’s liquor license to be revoked.
Please see BINGE on 8
Studies look at nationwide ‘epidemic’
■ Forty-four percent of
college students engage in
binge drinking, one study
By Brad Davis
The crackdown on binge drinking
at college campuses across the nation
is a response to a culture finally realiz
ing that its young people have a prob
lem with alcohol - some call it an epi
demic, experts said.
A1997 Harvard University r ation
al survey and several alcohol-re'ated
accidents brought binge drinking into
the spotlight, said Sandra Hoover of
the American Medical Association.
The survey, lead by Henry
Wechsler, director of the College
Alcohol Studies Program at Harvard,
showed that 44 percent of college stu
dents engaged in “binge drinking.”
Binge drinking, in the survey, was
defined as a male having five or more
drinks in a row, and as a female having
four or more drinks in a row.
On the heels of the 1997 report
were two student deaths related to
alcohol,, one at Louisiana State
University in Baton Rouge, La., and
me at the Massachusetts Institute of
rechnology in Cambridge, Mass.,
which sparked a fiiror of media and
university administrator concern.
A1997 national Study of 130 schools showed
that more than half of coflege men, and
nearly 40 percent of college women, were
frequent binge drinkers.
* Infrequent binge drinkers report binge drinking
one or two times during the last two weeks.
** Frequent binge drinkers report binge drinking
three or more times during the last two weeks.
Source: Harvard National College Alcohol Study, 1997
“I think that what happened was
that the college alcohol study really
brought attention to the range and
strength of the problems,” said Hoover,
who works with the Robert Wood
Johnson Foundation, which gave UNL
a $700,000 grant to fight binge drink
The Harvard study pointed to the
fact, Hoover said, that college students
are (kinking more frequently just to get
“I think that’s a difference from the
past,” she said. “The goal is to just go
out and get wiped out”
It’s difficult to get society to realize
the problem of college binge drinking,
though, said Ian Newman, a UNL
health education professor.
Alcohol is the public’s drug,
Newman said, and until recent surveys
and alcohol-related deaths and acci
dents, most problems with booze were
swept undo* the rug.
But with an increasing number of
people falling out of windows, deaths
and sexual assaults all related to alco
hol, Newman said, the public is being
forced to reckon with the evils of irre
Debra Erenberg, manager of anti
binge drinking program College
Initiative in Washington, D.C., said
that as societal norms change and peo
ple drink less, it’s more obvious that
college students are gorging on alco
Societal norms are what many peo
ple use to justify binge drinking, some
experts said. Students assert that their
parents partied while they were in col
lege, so they should be able to as well,
“It’s a message that people get
from the media,” she said. “Everyone’s
seen ‘Animal House.’ Students really
feel this is their time to go wild - that
they have a right to party heavily.”
Newman said heavy drinking is
sometimes looked at as a “rite of pas
sage” for college students.
What’s not publicized or passed
down from parents though, he said, is
that not everyone drinks and that there
are consequences to students drinking
A Nebraska study Newman
worked on showed that the drinking
culture has changed since the days of
current students’ parents and grand
It used to be, he said, people drank
to excess only on special occasions,
such as a wedding or graduation.
“It didn’t go on every weekend like
it does now.”
The risk of excessive drinking has
also increased in the past few decades,
Newman said. The number of students
who have cars on campus, and who
drive them after drinking, is just one
risk factor that has increased.
“We don’t want to take away the
opportunity to enjoy life, but some
thing that’s killing more than 100,000
people a year appears to be a public
problem that deserves addressing,”
Though putting the cork on binge
drinking has gained high-profile
media arid Campus administration
attention, Newman said, a culture still
exists that supports drinking to excess.
Many college campuses, including
the University of Nebraska-Lincoln
through the Johnson foundation grant,
are struggling to change campus cul
tures that support binge drinking.
Billboards that advertise booze,
cheap drink specials at local bars and a
large number of taverns near a campus
- UNL has 114 within a mile of City
Campus - all support a binge-drinking
culture, Erenbeig said.
But it’s not just what’s on or near
campuses that promote the message
that it’s OK to chink heavily.
Drinking is a part of many younger
Nebraskans’ lives, Newman said.
Among high school students,
Nebraska is one of the top three states
of die 25 or so states that keep statistics
on drinking, he said.
Newman attributes this high
school drinking to certain cultural tra
ditions, the dropping price and increas
ing availability of alcohol and the lack
of things to do.
High school students bring their
drinking to the university, Newman
“Kids don’t come to the university
to drink,” he said. “They’ve learned
their patterns before.”
Statistics also reported in the
Harvard survey include:
■ Residents of fraternities or
sororities were four times as likely to.
be binge drinkers than other students.
■ White students were more than
twice as likely to be binge drinkers
than other racial or ethnic groups.
■ Students who said religion was
not very important to them were more
than twice as likely to be binge
drinkers than others.
■ Students who said participation
in athletics was very important or
important to them were almost Wi
times more likely to engage in binge
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