Student Body Presidents Urged to Get REAL About Alcohol

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Choose Responsibility launches initiative for student governments that encourages Responsibility, Education, and Leadership on campus alcohol issues.

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I think it's pretty unrealistic to say that the current laws are solving all drinking problems. I signed on with Get REAL to promote campus safety and intellectual discourse, knowing that college campuses are the perfect venue.

In conjunction with National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week 2009, Choose Responsibility has launched Get REAL, an initiative for student body presidents at college and university campuses nationwide that encourages responsibility, education, and leadership on alcohol issues.

Student body leaders possess the skills and real-world experience necessary to ensure that the debate about binge drinking, the legal drinking age, and campus alcohol policies is allowed to continue unimpeded on their campuses. Over the course of the coming months, Get REAL signatories will work together to foster productive discussions about alcohol that emphasize peer-to-peer accountability and explore all possible alternatives that will make their campuses safer.

"I'm tired of the toxic drinking environment sometimes seen on college campuses throughout the country," said Brody Leven, President of the Associated Students of Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah. "I think it's pretty unrealistic to say that the current laws are solving all drinking problems. I signed on with Get REAL to promote campus safety and intellectual discourse, knowing that college campuses are the perfect venue."

The culture of toxic binge drinking is a serious public health issue, and the Get REAL campaign offers students the opportunity to educate each other, promote safe behavior, and shape the direction of alcohol policies on their campuses. Recent statistics from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reveal that the problem of toxic drinking is getting worse on campuses across the nation: rates of binge drinking and unintentional alcohol-related deaths among the 18-24 college population increased between 1998 and 2005. Another recent study from researchers at the University of Minnesota identified 18 heavy-drinking schools and tracked survey results of alcohol-related problems on those campuses in 1993 and 2005, with little or no improvement over that 12-year period.

"These grim statistics indicate that binge drinking is as serious an alcohol-related problem today as drunk driving was two decades ago, and it is time for a serious solution," said Choose Responsibility President John McCardell. "Without the guidance and input of student government leaders, these trends are unlikely to improve. The time has come to treat college students as the young adults the law says they are, and the Get REAL campaign will provide these young adults with an opportunity to influence the debate and show leadership on alcohol issues."

Get REAL signatories will join a growing chorus of voices across the country that is calling for a discussion about toxic drinking and the drinking age. In August of 2008, 135 college and university presidents signed the Amethyst Initiative, a public statement advocating a debate about the intended and unintended consequences of Legal Age 21 on campuses nationwide. By joining this movement, these student body presidents will ensure that the people directly affected by changes in campus alcohol policies will have a chance to impact the conversation in a meaningful way.

Choose Responsibility is a nonprofit organization founded to stimulate informed and dispassionate public discussion about the presence of alcohol in American culture and to consider policies that will effectively empower young adults age 18 to 20 to make mature decisions about the place of alcohol in their own lives. For more information and to learn more about the Get REAL campaign, visit http://www.chooseresponsibility.org.

Contact: Nick DeSantis
Office: (202) 543-8760
E-mail: ndesantis (at) chooseresponsibility (dot) org

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