Students Produce Video On Drinking Choices As Part of UB Initiative to Curb Binge Drinking

By Mara McGinnis

Release Date: October 13, 1998 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- With Oct. 19 marking the beginning of National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week, a powerful momentum sparked by last fall's tragic death of Scott Krueger is moving the University at Buffalo community to take steps to prevent such a tragedy at UB.

"Alcohol is the number one problem on campuses today and the number one drug of choice among college students," says Laurie Krupski, UB's drug and alcohol counselor. "Many students fail to realize that alcohol is lethal and has the potential to cause death. They don't associate 'I can die' with going out and drinking."

One year ago Krueger, a college student from Orchard Park attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, died of acute alcohol intoxication at a fraternity party.

Despite Krueger's death and that of other students under similar circumstances in recent years, binge drinking continues "unabated" on campuses nationwide, according to a study released last month by the Harvard School of Public Health.

Noting that 42.7 percent of college students are binge drinkers, the study found evidence of increased intensity of drinking among those who drink, more drinking to get drunk, more frequent drunkenness and more alcohol-related problems, such as drinking and driving, since a 1993 study.

In an attempt to increase alcohol awareness in the UB community, several students and faculty and staff members have produced a 22-minute video titled "Making Choices: College Drinking" that presents the consequences of the wide range of choices college students make when it comes to drinking.

Steve Turkovich and Danielle Anglim, both high-school friends of Krueger's and now seniors at UB, helped work on the video and continue to promote alcohol awareness and responsible drinking in the UB community.

"The video is a first step in the monumental task of trying to change a culture through increasing awareness and education," explains Turkovich. "It allows students to reflect upon issues."

Anglim adds that the video doesn't necessarily tell students "don't drink," but rather emphasizes that the choice to drink or not to drink is in their power. "Students need to know they have a choice and the possible consequences of their decisions," she notes.

The students explain that the effectiveness of the video lies in its balance between real-life testimonies of students and the dramatized reality of UB's drinking scene.

"The video allows students to send other students their personalized message about responsible drinking," explains Krupski, also interim director of UB's Living Well Center. "We wanted UB students working on the video because they know what goes on here at UB. There are a lot of videos out there, but this one is specifically for and about UB students."

While Krupski and the students agree that it is unrealistic to try to eliminate binge drinking among college students, they emphasize the importance of students knowing how to save their own life or the life of a friend in a potentially deadly situation.

The video shows how to recognize the signs of alcohol poisoning and demonstrates the appropriate steps to take in such a situation.

Krupski says the video, which is gaining national interest, has been well-received by various groups of faculty, staff, students and parents of local high-school students. She reports that all of them have been impressed with the students' honest testimonials about their own drinking, as well as the extensive collaborative efforts of the Living Well Center, Student Health Center, Public Safety, Counseling Center, Residence Life, Inter-Greek Council and local businesses, including Molly's Pub on Main Street.

Krupski, who is evaluating the immediate and long-term effectiveness of programming intended to heighten alcohol awareness and help curb binge drinking, believes that offering alternatives to drinking, such as "natural-high events," are key to such efforts.

In celebration of Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week, UB will hold "Fall Fun Fest '98" at 7 p.m. Oct. 23 in Alumni Arena on the UB North (Amherst) Campus to entertain hundreds of students with various activities, including recreational sports, dancing, massages and reflexology.

Tables will be set up next week in the Student Union lobby, where student "power advocates" will promote alcohol awareness and provide information to students. Krupski also will visit several dorms to give presentations on the dangers of binge drinking.

Mandatory workshops, featuring a screening of the video and a panel discussion by UB students and staff committed to addressing alcohol concerns on campus, also will be held during the week for fraternity and sorority members.