UCSD Wins for Minimal Alcohol Use
PREVENTION: Automobile Club honors UCSD for responsible drinking habits

UCSD Guardian News
May 7, 1998

UCSD is the recipient of the first annual College and University Drinking and Driving Prevention award given by the Automobile Club of Southern California and the Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention.

UCSD officials accepted the $1,000 award during a ceremony yesterday outside the Marshall College Administration Building. The results of a new survey measuring UCSD students' drinking and associated behavior were also released.

UCSD formed a team of students called Creating Responsible Alcohol Services and Habits (C.R.A.S.H.), which then worked to reduce driving under the influence (DUI) and to inform students about responsible beverage usage.

C.R.A.S.H. members coordinated several activities including a "C.R.A.S.H. Course in Party Planning," in which students and beverage servers learned about serving alcohol responsibly and safely.

Activities similar to those initiated by the C.R.A.S.H. team continue today as the Celebrating Healthy Environments through the Empowerment of Responsible Students (C.H.E.E.R.S.) program. C.H.E.E.R.S. is a part of the "Five Colleges -- One Community" project started last year.

"C.R.A.S.H. was instrumental in getting UCSD to take a long look at the issue of binge drinking on campus for the first time in many years," said Lupe Samaniego-Kraus, director of health education at the Student Health and Wellness Center. "We succeeded by building awareness among students, staff and faculty and by creating a solid foundation to address this issue."

According to Automobile Club Senior Research Associate Steven Bloch, several criteria were considered in the competition. Judges looked at each program's effectiveness in deterring alcohol use. Other criteria included the number of violent crimes, the number of alcohol-related incidents and how well the program was publicized in the media.

C.R.A.S.H. won in a field containing 15 other colleges and universities.

"It's really great to see such an excellent program here with college students working on such solutions," said Arline Dillman, a traffic safety expert for the Auto Club.

According to the survey, 28 percent of the students here at UCSD reported binge drinking, defined as consuming five or more drinks in one sitting. Nationally, 38 percent of students reported binge drinking within the two-week documented period.

Nineteen percent of UCSD students surveyed reported driving after drinking. Nationally, 33 percent of students reported driving under the influence.

UCSD's numbers have decreased; a 1994 survey indicated that 35 percent of the students reported binge drinking and 27 percent reported driving after drinking.

Of the students surveyed, 60.3 percent said their close friends would disapprove of having five or more drinks in one sitting.

"While drinking on campus may be down, the number of alcohol-related traffic deaths and injuries among 17- to 24-year-olds in San Diego County is still a serious concern," Dillman said.

Yesterday's presentation corresponds with Marshall College's Alcohol Awareness Week, which continues through next Wednesday. Several events are planned for the rest of the week, including a "Speak-Out" panel on drug and alcohol issues at 6 p.m. in the Price Center Theater on Wednesday.