6C - The Michigan Daily - New Student Edition - Tuesday, September 3, 2002
RHA ban goes up in smoke by just one vote
By Maria Sprow
Daily Staff Reporter
The Residence Hall Association came one vote short
of passing a resolution Jan. 24 in favor of making all
residence halls smoke-free within the next two years.
The resolution was written by Kinesiology freshman
and West Quad resident Pete Woiwode after University
Housing officials asked RHA members to gather infor-
mation from students living in residence halls and sub-
mit an opinion for or against a smoking ban.
It cited health and safety risks along with destruction
to University property as its top reasons for wanting to
To date, nine out of 11 schools in the Big Ten have
banned smoking from their residence halls.
The resolution, first submitted to RHA at the January
meeting, stated that support of smoking and smokers by
the University "considerably reduces our right to claim
academic and intellectual excellence, for smoking is in
direct conflict with any rational or progressive thought."
The resolution included an amendment to reinforce
existing policies which do not permit students to smoke
next to exterior doorways and the removal or transporta-
tion of ashtrays from doorways.
Had the resolution been passed, the residence halls it
could have affected are Vera Baits, Bursley, Cambridge,
Couzens, East Quad, West Quad, Fletcher, Alice Lloyd,
Mary Markley, Oxford Housing and South Quad:.
Betsy Barbour, Mosher Jordan, Helen Newberry,
Stockwell and Martha Cook residence halls are already
designated as smoke-free.
Though a majority of the present RHA members
voted for the ban, a two-thirds majority was needed. In
the final vote, 11 members were for the ban, 4 were
opposed and 2 abstained. Twelve votes in favor of the
resolution were needed for it to pass.
Some students against the resolution said they felt
banning smoking in the residence halls infringed upon
student's individual rights.
"I am completely, 100 percent, against (the resolu-
tion)," said Fletcher resident Jeff Souva, an LSA sopho-
more, during the debate. "I feel that the University of
Michigan has a long history of personal rights. U of M
should support ,personal rights like it has in the past. I
feel that we are totally infringing upon their rights in
But students for the amendment said students' health
should come before smoking privileges.
In the end, RHA President Tim Winslow, an engineer-
ing junior and resident of Baits house, said the two
members who chose to abstain from voting were respon-
sible for the bill's failure.
LSA junior Carrie Rheingans said she abstained from
voting because she felt members didn't have enough
time to talk to the students they represent to see if resi-
dents were for or against the ban.
"I abstained because my hall hasn't given an official
position," Rheingans said.
Although the first resolution failed, many RHA
members said they were in favor of a similar resolu-
tion. Others said the resolution had not been put to
rest and would be a reoccurring theme in upcoming
"It's going to come back," said music sophomore and
Alice Lloyd resident Anup Aurora, who said he is
against banning all smoking in residence halls.
"I do think it should be controlled. The University is
based on freedom of choice. If we take smoking away
from students, that goes against what the University
Regardless of whether RHA passes a resolution for or
against smoking in residence halls, the final decision
does not rest on their hands. University Housing has the
Luis Figueroa, left, and Lucas Lopatin, both LSA sophomores,
lived in one of East Quad's smoking rooms last year and were
worried about the possible ban on smoking in residence halls.
Administrators try to combat binge drinking, prevent deaths
By Lizzie Ehrie
Daily Staff Reporter
While educators across the country continue to examine
student lifestyles in a search for ways to decrease binge
drinking rates among college students, some believe the
root of the problem may stem from broad,.cultural ideolo-
gies and not just the influences of a college campus.
"One theory is that as a society we don't teach our
young people to drink responsibly," said Carol Boyd,
director of the University Substance Abuse Research Cen-
"No one taught responsible drinking in high school,"
graduated senior Matthew Liston said.
Patrice Flax, an alcohol initiatives coordinator from
University Health Services, said the prevalence of alcohol
in the media helps students form certain atti-
tudes and values about the issue of alcohol. IC
"We see it so much we don't think about its
any more," she said. |
Daniel Pak, University director of special 9
projects, said the University's attempts to
decrease binge drinking from the formation of
special commissions to investigative reports
have not been successful.
"Unfortunately, we have not seen the effects
of those efforts. There is no evidence that
binge drinking has decreased. In fact, there is
evidence that it has increased," he said.
Pak said that following alcohol-related deaths of two
Korean students since 1997, one area of specific concern
is the drinking habits of ethnic-minority students.
"The research is so lacking that we have
no idea what's going on," Pak said. "The
lack of a multicultural approach to research
may have contributed to the fact that we
haven't had an effect on students."
Pak called for future ethnic-specific
research to provide effective policies and
LSA junior Daniel Reiger, leader of Pro-
moting Alcohol Responsibility Through You,
a student group that promotes alcohol
responsibility on campus, recognizes how
overarching cultural expectations make binge drinking
difficult to combat.
"I'm not sure there's anything concrete to attack,"
P.A.R.T.Y. was founded last semester with the goal of
tackling alcohol issues in the most integrated way possi-
ble, Reiger said.
The group's first initiative was to mail birthday cards to
University students on their 21st birthdays. The cards
read, "Remember, a toast to your future is worth nothing
if you're not here to enjoy it," and ask students to cele-
brate responsibly. The mailings began in the third week of
this semester, Reiger said.
"It's an issue that needs to be addressed, but it was not
being addressed how it should be," he said, suggesting
that initiatives taken from the perspective of students may
be more effective in promoting responsible drinking.
P.A.R.T.Y is the first student-run organization that focuses
on alcohol issues on campus.
While some students believe that any message is more
effective when it comes from peers, some disagree.
"If I got this card in the mail, I wouldn't think twice
about it at the bar," Liston said. "I think that if students
are going to control students, it would have to be your
In recent years, several universities have started social
norms marketing - advertising campaigns that provide
students with accurate information about how many stu-
dents drink alcohol and how much they drink.
"Students' perceptions of other students' drinking
behavior is often higher than what actually goes on, and
that may make them more likely to drink more," Pak
Some administrators believe spreading awareness that
not all students engage in frequent binges might cause
some to drink less.
The University began social norms marketing in 1995,
but stopped this initiative in 1999 when it became part of
the Social Norms Marketing Research Project - a five-
year nationwide study evaluating the effectiveness of
these marketing campaigns on 32 college campuses, said
Marsha Benz, UHS health and education coordinator.
The study, administered by the Boston-based Education
Development Center, includes the University as part of a
control group that must abstain from any form of social
The University has been matched with a similar, undis-
closed school that is part of the intervention group and
currently utilizing social norms marketing on its campus.
The effectiveness of these marketing strategies will be
measured by comparing schools within the two groups
after the study is completed.
"I'd prefer to be part of the intervention, but even as
part of the control group we're going to have access to a
lot of different things we wouldn't have otherwise,"
Drinking viewed as accepted
part of collegiate atmosphere
By Uzzle Ehrle
Daily Staff Reporter
Any student passing through four
years of college inevitably will be
faced with social settings centered
around alcohol. For many, drinking
beer and downing shots can become as
much a part of their college experience
as writing papers and taking exams.
Most students see alcohol as an
inherent part of college life, no matter
how much they chose to drink.
"I don't think it's a matter of choice,"
graduated senior Matt Biersack said.
"You'll be surrounded by it regardless
of whether you drink or not."
"There is talk almost every weekend
about what party everyone is going to,
and how wasted someone is going to
get," LSA senior Amy Ament said.
Out of all University undergraduate
students, 45 percent engage in binge
drinking, according to an Internet-
based Student Life Survey adminis-
tered by the University's Substance
Abuse Research Center in 1999.
Binge drinking is defined as four or
more drinks for females and five or
more for males in one sitting - a
measure that is widely used and
"Be it to the bar, to someone's house,
or to your own house, I feel like alco-
hol is part of the culture of college. It is
so ingrained in all of our social set-
tings," Biersack said.
The Harvard School of Public
Health College Alcohol Study - an
ongoing survey of more than 14,000
college students - reports that the
national rate of binge drinkers (44 per-
cent of students) has remained the
same since 1993.
Binge drinking becomes a concern
because it tends to signal that alcohol-
related problems are ahead. Such sec-
ondary effects range from health or
legal problems to missing class or
doing poorly on a test.
According to the Student Life Sur-
vey, as binge drinking episodes
increase for students, their grades
Three out of four binge drinkers
rprnvtpA miecina clasc ithin the nast
LSA junior Chris Perry (left) tries on a pair of beer goggles, which simulate a person's
vision after having anywhere between three to eight drinks in an hour.
from big tests and get all messed up,"
said LSA sophomore Scott Caesar,
emphasizing the enhanced freedom
freshmen feel upon leaving home for
the first time.
"The social environment of college
and the high stress of academics pro-
mote an atmosphere of heavy drink-
ing," graduated senior G.J. Zann said.
Marsha Benz, a health education
coordinator with University Health
Services, agrees that the stress of
school can affect alcohol consumption
but also considers student expectations
of a new social environment as an
influential factor. "There are a lot of
expectations people come with, and
oftentimes expectations make people
act a different way," she said.
Regardless of expectations, some
students believe there are subtle pres-
sures within college life regarding
"I think many people, whether
they'll admit it or not, want to fit in
and be a part of something," Biersack
said. "Rather than making a decision to
start drinking excessively, they can get
caught up in a cycle."
Accordino to the Stuident Life Sur-
Other Big Ten universities have
looked at bar specials as a possible
cause of binge drinking and have thus
tried to limit these promotions. Such
specials as $1 pitchers and two-for-one
drinks can be seen as creating an envi-
ronment conducive to heavy drinking.
"What the data is showing on other
campuses is that when the availability
to alcohol is hindered by increasing the
price, then drinking rates go down,"
said Patrice Flax, an alcohol initiatives
coordinator with UHS.
But University administrators are
hesitant to implement policies here as
they keep in mind possible unintended
consequences of such policies.
Carol Boyd, director of the Sub-
stance Abuse Research Center,
expressed concern that if special drink
prices are restricted on campus, stu-
dents may drive to neighboring cities
for better prices, thus increasing the
dangers of drinking and driving.
"Before we institute any policy or
even make recommendations to local
businesses on our campus, we must
evaluate the goal of the proposed
chane and how that change will eet