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Committee to tackle drinking on Penn State campus

April 27, 2001

Committee to tackle drinking on Penn State campus



By RICHARD F. BELISLE / Staff Writer, Waynesboro


MONT ALTO, Pa. - Doug McCullough thinks there's less drinking by Penn State Mont Alto students because there are no bars conveniently located near the campus.

Mont Alto is a dry town.

McCullough, the school's assistant professor of health and physical education, said that doesn't mean there is no drinking on the campus. Students even drink in dormitory halls where it's against the rules, he said.

A new committee will tackle problem drinking at the Penn State Mount Alto campus in Franklin County.

"There is drinking here, but it's probably not as bad as it is on Penn State's main campus" in State College, Pa., McCullough said. "You can't walk down a street in State College without passing a bar. It just isn't as readily available here in Mont Alto. There aren't any bars or taverns within walking distance."

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Penn State's drinking atmosphere has been the subject of recent public forums at State College.

Enrollment at Mont Alto is about 1,200 students, and about 525 students live on campus, McCullough said.

The Partnership for Prevention Committee, formed in an effort to cut down on drinking and illegal drug use on the campus, is being launched at Mont Alto, McCullough said.

The program, an offshoot of a universitywide program that was organized at Penn State's main campus, joins the university system with the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board in exploring ways to reduce binge drinking among college students.

Alcohol and drugs are often associated with college campuses, Penn State officials said. At Mont Alto, administrators are working to prevent the problem and change the image, McCullough said.

He said the local committee will include students, administrators, student counselors, representatives of area agencies and citizens who want to help.

Anyone interested can call the campus at 1-717-749-6219.

McCullough described binge drinking for men as consuming five or more beers or drinks at one sitting. For women it's four or more drinks. Males are more apt to engage in the practice than females, he said.

"Unfortunately, girls seem to like to get in on it. They seem to be carried away with it," he said.

In addition to the obvious consequences of heavy drinking - driving while under the influence, fights and its effect on academic performance, long-term consequences include the fact that it can lead to a life of alcoholism, McCullough said.

Mont Alto administrators don't know for sure the extent of drinking on and off campus among students there, McCullough said.

Students caught drinking on campus are subject to criminal arrest by campus police and suspension by administrators, he said.

The college has several on-campus anti-drug and drinking programs already in effect that include anti-DUI seminars and presentations, freshmen orientation programs and late night, alcohol-free recreation activities.

"It's better than sitting in a dorm room and drinking," McCullough said.

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