Dartmouth Students Try to Create Alcohol Awareness

by: Mike Miller

Binge drinking and university life go hand-in-hand. Is there a way to curb binge drinking? Check this out.

A few years ago, students in Dartmouth College's (in Hanover, NH) introductory engineering class invented a bicycle wheel to help young children maintain their balance. A recent challenge for the current class? Tipsy college students.

A Cure for Binge Drinking?

When professor John Collier learned that Dartmouth President Jim Young Kim planned to visit his class, he decided to have students show off their problem-solving skills by attacking a social problem instead of an engineering dilemma.

Binge drinking — defined as consuming five alcoholic drinks in two hours for men and four drinks in two hours for women— was an obvious choice, given the national initiative Kim launched last spring aimed at reducing excessive drinking on college campuses. And it was a topic that students had plenty of experience with.

The students were divided into groups and asked to work on one of four problems related to binge drinking. They had an hour to evaluate the problem, come up with solutions and rate each one based on how well it met the specifications of the problem, including whether a solution would work well for different age groups and genders.


One target was a practice known as "pre-gaming," in which students drink in residence halls before going out for the night. The students came up with an idea to create a freshmen-only facility that would include the social elements of fraternities and sororities — games, music — without the alcohol.

Another group proposed getting student emergency medical workers involved in helping fellow students determine when an intoxicated friend needs medical attention. The student EMTs already help out at athletic events and could be an asset in social settings as well.

Last spring, Dartmouth launched the National College Health Improvement Project, a learning collaborative focused on measuring what works to reduce binge drinking on one campus and sharing it elsewhere. The project will bring together teams from 32 campuses to share their experiences and help one another test strategies back home.

Interesting, huh? It is always a good idea to put our nation’s greatest minds to the challenge of solving problems that our politicians do not have a hope in heck of taking care of.