After years of largely unsuccessful attempts to discourage binge drinking on campuses around the country, administrators are looking for more creative ways to keep students from getting fall-down drunk.

Brian Merlos
(Source: University of Michigan)

The University of Iowa is attempting to throw a wrench in the “Thirsty Thursday” routine – the popular practice of starting weekends a night early – by scheduling more classes on Fridays.

Only 14 percent of classes at the University of Michigan are held on Fridays, as opposed to 22 percent on Mondays and Tuesdays and 21 percent on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

University spokeswoman Kelly Cunningham said there are no plans to schedule more classes on Fridays because those afternoons are generally used for other purposes.

“Friday is a day where we have lots of lectures and public seminars and interesting things where we have people come and speak,” she said.

Along with more Friday classes, some schools are attempting to cut down on drinking by limiting alcohol advertising on campus.

The California State University system implemented stricter controls on alcohol advertising two years ago. The system’s Fullerton campus even hired a student to take down advertisements and fliers that promoted drink specials at bars on campus.

Taking an even more aggressive approach, Louisiana State University worked with the Baton Rouge city council to ban “all-you-can-drink” specials or big drink specials after 10 p.m.

The University of Michigan’s approach is more focused on trying to convince students not to drink.

Mary Jo Desprez, the University of Michigan’s alcohol policy and community initiatives program administrator, said the University doesn’t have any initiatives like those in place.

“We can’t make anybody do anything,” she said. “We can’t make bars change their alcohol policies.”

LSA sophomore Rachel Rarus said that while she’s against college drinking, she understands that it would be difficult for the University to stop other people from drinking. Still, she said that the University makes a good effort to control it.

“I think it could do a little bit more, but when it comes down to it, it’s ultimately an individual’s decision,” Rarus said.

Marsha Benz, an alcohol and other drug health educator at the University Health Service, said the amount of binge drinking at the University is about average compared to other universities.

Along with a host of programs designed to help students with drinking problems, the Dean of Students Office has developed a campus-wide campaign called “Stay in the Blue.”

By distributing blood alcohol content charts and other promotional materials at UHS, the program encourages students who choose to drink to do so responsibly and to keep their BAC under .06 percent.

The office has also launched poster campaigns telling students to “choose to be safe and legal.”

Another, more hands-on initiative is Peers Utilizing Leadership Skills for Education, a residential peer education program that trains highly sociable and connected residents to approach students who have health issues.

Benz said it’s a good way for students who might need help but need an extra push or don’t know how to get help.

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