Curbing Student Drinking

On college campuses in Massachusetts, one student has been seriously injured and two have died within the last month as a result of heavy drinking.

In response, the state Board of Higher Education voted unanimously to approve a new policy that directs all public colleges and universities to adopt tough restrictions on alcohol use. For example, under the new policy, anyone throwing a campus party where alcohol is to be served would have to seek permission first.

Approving the stricter policy was the right step to take. It won't result in completely dry campuses. It won't keep those students who want to drink from drinking - off campus. But it does send a message that board members are serious and are willing to take a stand against underage drinking.

It will now be up to the colleges and universities to demonstrate just how serious they are. They may look to schools in other states and nations, public and private, for inspiration.

At the University of Michigan, for example, 30 percent of the student body chooses to live in the alcohol-free dorms the school has set up. And the University of Rhode Island has combined a new ban on alcohol at all campus social events with tougher penalties for violators and greater efforts to educate students about the dangers of drinking.

Such instruction about a matter so vital to students is a legitimate educational function for any university.

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