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alcohol fight gets Coach Richt's aid at UGeorgia?

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Alcohol fight gets Richt's aid at UGA



The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Published on: 04/06/06

ATHENS — University of Georgia football coach Mark Richt wants an on-campus alcohol-free nightclub.


Student Ally Hunt wants more alcohol education for freshmen.





Student Alex Oliver wants more accountability and consequences for those who break drinking laws.


They all want change when it comes to the culture of alcohol that permeates the university campus. To that end, students, faculty, Richt and UGA President Michael Adams came together to discuss alternatives to alcohol in a Town Hall meeting Wednesday night.


"We want to gain a better understanding about the factors that impact your decision and the choices that you make," Rodney Bennett, vice president for student affairs, told the 200 students who attended the meeting.


The choices that have been made in the past at Georgia have turned it into a school with an acknowledged alcohol problem. In a recent nationwide survey on campus drinking, 89.9 percent of Georgia students used alcohol as compared to 84 percent nationally and 36.2 percent used marijuana as compared to the national average of 32.8 percent.


The social climate and culture has changed, said Adams.


Now these students and selected campus leaders at least are trying to facilitate some change of their own.


Richt, who has dealt with three player-related alcohol problems since November, said he has fallen victim to being more reactionary instead of proactive. So, in a step to become more proactive, Richt brought to the table the idea of shifting the student body's focus away from downtown and toward on-campus activities.


"It is down to choices," Richt said. "Most everyone is going to make a choice: I want to go out with my friends and have fun. I want to go where everybody goes. If the place is downtown, sooner or later you are going to end up drinking and drinking too much."


Richt said he asked players if they would be willing to go to an alcohol-free nightclub on campus.


"They said, 'Yeah if the girls would go, I would go.' " He added, "Maybe that would be something that could become popular."


What was the most popular topic of discussion among the students Wednesday was mandatory education.


"When young adults step onto this campus, that is when we have to get involved," said Hunt. "It is a culture that just exists in the halls of this university."


It is not just this university. According to a a report by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, or NIAAA, 1,400 college students die from alcohol-related causes, and 1,100 of these deaths involve drinking and driving and more than 500,000 students suffer nonfatal injuries.


Students armed with similar knowledge implored the university to hold students accountable for their actions.


"Are we too permissive here in what we allow to go on?" asked Adams.


"I don't think it is so much permissive as it is apathetic," said fifth-year student J.T. Jensen.


Adams and Richt said they want to foster change and will work with students to find alternatives to alcohol. A course with 15 students or less for freshmen has been talked about and could come to fruition.


In addition, the topics brought to light Wednesday will be heavily considered by the university.

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