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UNC-Chapel Hill Takes Aim At Campus Alcohol Abuse

A picture of beer bottles

Officials at UNC-Chapel Hill hope a new initiative will change the way students think about alcohol.

The school's revised alcohol policy takes a public health approach to problem drinking, emphasizing education, prevention, treatment and recovery.

Dean of Students Johnathan Sauls said while alcohol abuse has been a long-standing problem on many college campuses, more students these days are engaging in dangerous consumption habits.

"Students are drinking significantly larger quantities of alcohol in single settings, in ways that I don't think were probably as pervasive, or certainly not recognized, even a generation of students ago," said Sauls.

The new approach attempts to balance enforcement of current regulations with education about the impact of drinking on individuals and the campus community.

"We finally concluded that a comprehensive multi-disciplinary approach was going to be a much better approach than simply trying to discipline our way out of this," said Sauls. "That has not worked on this or any other campus, to my knowledge."

The policy offers medical amnesty, meaning students who have been drinking won't be penalized if they seek help in an emergency. It's meant to encourage students to report alcohol poisoning, or sexual assaults and other crimes. The university will hire a substance abuse counselor to work with students, as well as a liaison to collaborate with the Town of Chapel Hill, the Orange County Health Department and businesses near campus that sell alcohol.

The plan comes one year after a former UNC student was charged in a head-on collision that killed three people on I-85. Authorities say Chandler Kania had been using a fake ID to drink at bars in downtown Chapel Hill before the crash.

The university's new alcohol policy goes into effect in August.

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