CHICAGO -- Just the accounts of how they died should be sobering.
A University of Michigan student celebrating his 21st birthday died after downing his 20th shot in 10 minutes. An Old Dominion University student choked to death on his own vomit during a pledge-week drinking binge. A Colgate University student is facing four years in prison after crashing into a tree during a night of drinking, killing four students.
They were only a few of the college drinking tragedies last school year.
"Most students get here and think, 'Oh, it's freedom. I can do whatever I want without mom and dad finding out," said Kelly Hill of Detroit, a junior at the University of Michigan. "A lot of them don't know what their limits are."
A nationwide survey by the American Medical Association released Wednesday shows college binge drinking is among parents' top concerns. Of the parents surveyed, 95 percent said excessive drinking is a serious threat to their children and 85 percent said easy access to alcohol in college communities contributes to the problem.
"The potential that their son or daughter is personally involved or becoming a victim of alcohol abuse or heavy drinking" ought to be a serious concern for all parents of college students, said Chancellor John Wiley of the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
Two students died there in alcohol-related falls last year and 40 others received emergency-room treatment for severe drunkenness.
To cut down alcohol access, the new basketball-hockey stadium won't be selling beer, an estimated loss of $500,000 during hockey season alone. The university is also among 10 colleges nationwide participating in an AMA-led initiative to curb binge drinking.
The $17.5 million AMA program started in 1996 with The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to address a problem that affects an estimated 44 percent of U.S. college students.
Its efforts include eliminating alcohol-industry sponsorships of athletics, mandating parental notification if underage students are caught with alcohol, increasing alcohol-free social events on campus and encouraging local tavern owners to eliminate drink specials geared toward students.
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