|Office of the Chancellor / Public Affairs||
Wednesday, March 17, 2004
Chico Enterprise-Record 3-17-04
Notre Dame head shares views on campus drinking
On the eve of St. Patrick's Day, a man who may qualify as the No. 1 Irishman in America was in Chico to discuss ways to reduce the damage of drinking on college students.
The Rev. Edward A. Malloy, president of the University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Ind., met Tuesday at Chico State University with campus officials, representatives of local law enforcement and community members to compare notes on anti-drinking campaigns.
Malloy, who has been the president at Notre Dame for 16 years, explained he has been involved in the effort to keep a lid on drinking among college-age individuals almost since he took the job.
During that time, he has served on the first President Bush's council on drugs and has been one of the leaders of a major nationwide research project aimed at identifying ways to short-circuit youthful drinking before it has tragic consequences.
He told Tuesday's gathering there are a handful of elements that have been found to exacerbate drinking problems on campuses.
Malloy said there is "overwhelming evidence" that schools with "significant" Greek fraternity and sorority systems are at greater risk of having serious alcohol problems.
He also reported that first-year students are generally at greater risk of getting in trouble with booze than older students.
Malloy said schools with large-scale athletic programs particularly those that have large events before or after athletic contests have more trouble with alcohol abuse.
He said he is disturbed by the growing trend of serious alcohol abuse among female students. He said as a matter of metabolism, women who get in drinking games with men always lose, which in turn leads to the potential for sexual abuse of the woman.
He praised what he called "a comprehensive multifaceted strategy" of education, social pressure and enforcement to limit the problem, but, "I don't think there is any program that is the answer in and of itself."
Malloy said he is concerned about the impact alcohol advertising has on student-age individuals. He tried to do something about that when Notre Dame was negotiating with the NBC television network over the broadcast rights to the school's football games.
"We said we would not like the sort of bimbos-on-the-beach that seems to be so much a part of alcohol advertising" during the NBC Notre Dame games.
Malloy said he was contacted by the vice president of a major beer company who said he was concerned the Notre Dame action might "set a precedent."
The vice president explained to Malloy the company had three basic kinds of commercials. One was a cautionary tale that advised people to "use our product but use it responsibly." The second was sort of the "neutral scene" where the firm tried to sell its beer against a backdrop of glaciers or horses running. The third sort of ad, according to Malloy, involved "young people on the beach in minimal clothing," and that was the sort the company preferred to use.
The president said his demand was met in that only the first two kinds of ads were aired during Notre Dame games.
Unlike probably any other major university president in the country, Malloy lives in a campus dormitory with his students. He said he has lived there for 21 years. He said the quality of life is "hugely better" now than when he first moved in.
Malloy conceded his observations are not scientific but "factoids," like being able to get to sleep at night and how much time the dorm staff has to spend dealing with the problems caused by "5 percent of the students," that have demonstrated to him the improvement.
He said for the most part, he has found it enjoyable to live among the students, but there have been experiences that have been anything but pleasant.
He recalled one day when there was a commotion in the dorm's basement, and he heard somebody say, "I think she's dead."
When he got to the basement, he found a 100-pound high school girl who had just downed 11 shots of vodka. The girl had to have her stomach pumped, but she survived.
He said the great danger is the "isolated moment" where the drive to be accepted or popular, to feel part of something, will drive the individual to do something dangerously stupid.
He said the goal is to get the individual past that so "they don't die or do something they will regret for the rest of their lives."
Malloy said he is convinced "every place to belong," whether that is in athletics, theater and drama, student government, the campus newspaper, or religious involvement, is an important step to avoid the dangers of alcohol.
He also said he advises all his freshman students to "never eat dinner alone." He explained that so many students think they are the only one who is lonely because others seem to be doing fine, and just finding somebody to eat with is "a native natural social event."
Following his meeting on campus, Malloy went to a meeting of the Notre Dame Alumni Club of Northern California. The club meeting was one of about 10 a year Malloy said he tries to attend around the country.
This morning he was to leave Chico for another meeting in Eugene, Ore.
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