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Should colleges do more to protect students when it comes to drinking?

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(Photo Credit: Melissa Wang / Flickr, Photo Date: November 19, 2010) (Photo Credit: Melissa Wang / Flickr, Photo Date: November 19, 2010)
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(WTVM) -

College is such a positive step into adulthood, but student safety when it comes to drinking may lead these new adults into a medical emergency.

ABC's Dr. Timothy Johnson has more details.

Alcohol plus college parties equals a dangerous cocktail for many students. Now, a new study suggests universities don't do enough to protect their students.

University of Minnesota researchers surveyed campus police chiefs at 343 colleges nationwide, asking them about their responses to alcohol-linked problems on campus.

The findings are sobering. Even serious violations like physical assaults or property damage led to citations in only about one in three cases.

Only one in six students involved in these incidents were referred to screening for problem drinking, and less than 10 percent were reported to outside law enforcement.

An article from Medical Xpress, a web-based health and medical news service, adds that minor violations were punished even less often and less harshly.

"The perceived severity of the infraction appeared to make a difference in the enforcement steps taken," said Toben F. Nelson, associate professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota, as well as corresponding author for the study. "Campus security or law enforcement officials were less likely to take action for violations they perceived to be less serious.

"Lack of action on less serious violations was more common on campuses perceived to have a major problem with student drinking. This may provide an opportunity for future intervention to increase enforcement, and the benefits of deterrence, for less serious violations."

This "oh well, it's part of college" thinking needs replacing with a strong message to colleges.

Better alcohol enforcement doesn't mean killing the party… it just might mean saving a student's life.

The study's results will be published in the August 2014 online-only issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research and are currently available at Early View.

[See Also: A national study of colleges identifies gaps in efforts to enforce alcohol laws

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