Binge drinking on college campuses should not be dismissed as a "rite of passage" and steps need to be taken to stop the cycle that has permeated college campuses for decades, Mark S. Goldman, PhD, testified to the U.S. Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs May 15.

Goldman, co-chair of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism College Drinking Task Force, is the director of the Alcohol and Substance Abuse Research Institute at the University of South Florida.

The task force recommended Congress fund programs that offer the following:

  • A "3-in-1 framework," which focuses on individuals, the student population as a whole and the community, to prevent alcohol abuse.

  • Specific strategies tailored to the needs of each school.

Goldman urged legislators to demand a higher level of methodological research on college binge drinking to better evaluate the problem, intervention programs and the factors that place individuals most at risk.

"Rigorous scientific research has the potential to break the terrible cycle we see repeated time and time again: a tragic death followed by a large amount of money thrown at the problem, with little or no evaluation," he said. "Few of these efforts achieve any lasting results, administrators become frustrated, policy-makers cynical, students apathetic--and college drinking remains as an apparently intractable problem."

Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.), who presided over the hearing, agreed that more needs to be done to prevent college binge drinking. He cited a statistic that shows college drinking contributes to 1,400 deaths, 70,000 sexual assaults and 500,000 injuries each year.

Lieberman said that colleges need to implement tougher alcohol policies, police should better enforce drinking age laws, and students and parents need to be more educated on alcohol policies and penalties.