Just in time for spring break, the substance abuse researchers at Columbia University released a report about how messed up college students are: more binge drinking, more drunkenness, more alcoholism, more mixing booze with prescription pills and illegal drugs. CBS and NBC both gave it publicity. NBC's in-house physician Nancy Snyderman described how the University of Rhode Island, once the nation's "#1 party school" had gone on the wagon: no more two-for-one nights, no ladies-drink-free nights, three drunken offenses lead to expulsion.
CBS assigned the story to Mark Strassmann in Dallas, who narrated footage from Florida of young men--"I am drinking every night. My liver is going to hate me"--carrying coolers onto the sand on South Beach in Miami. The newsworthiness of the statistics had more to do with those pictures of beach parties than with their currency. The data Strassmann cited were as stale as a morning-after pitcher of beer. They tracked an increase in the volume of drinking from 1993 to 2001, six years ago.
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