MADD moving to college campuses to fight binge drinking

Thursday, March 1st 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

BOSTON - Mothers Against Drunk Driving, which has focused its campaign against underage drinking on elementary and high schools, will begin fighting binge drinking on college campuses, the group announced Wednesday.

Besides adding college chapters, the group plans to set a national standard for college alcohol policies and rate schools on their policies and enforcement.

MADD President Millie Webb acknowledged the task's enormity, given the way drinking is glamorized in movies like ``Animal House'' and is often considered a rite of passage.

``I think we hope to do it ... one college student at a time,'' she said.

A study released last year by the Harvard School of Public Health found that 22.7 percent of college students reported frequent binge drinking in 1999, up from 19.8 percent in 1993 and 20.9 percent in 1997. The survey included 14,000 students at 119 colleges.

Frequent binge drinking was defined as five or more drinks in a row by men or four in a row for women within two weeks.

Webb said binge drinkers endanger others, particularly if they drive, but their own studies also suffer and their friends are forced to deal with unpleasant side effects like unruly behavior and illness, Webb said.

Only one of MADD's 600 chapters is now based at a college _ Boston University, where the Dallas-based group was making its announcement.

Sophomore founder Corrie Barnett said progress can be made if students are shown the costs of destructive drinking, particularly by peers.

``I don't think any college student is going to tell you it's not wrong,'' she said.