College Students Abuse Study Drugs for Exams

It's final exam season for colleges, and students are turning to stimulant drugs to deal with heavy workloads. According to a study presented at an international pediatric meeting, one in five students at an unnamed Ivy League school admitted to using "study drugs" like Adderall and Ritalin, which are typically used to treat ADHD. We take a look at the way these drugs are misused, the serious risks involved in taking them and why college students are doing it anyway.

UC Tuition Hike Proposal Upsets Students, Pits UC President Against Governor

The University of California Board of Regents is set to vote Wednesday on a plan to raise tuition by as much as 5 percent every year for the next five years. The proposal is angering students, and has put UC President Janet Napolitano at odds with Gov. Jerry Brown, who is resisting the increase and urging the UC to reduce spending instead.

PBS NewsHour

Twitter chat: What can be done to curb drinking on college campuses?

         cups lined up for popular college drinking game beer pong. More than 1,800 students die each year from alcohol related incidents
         in the U.S. Photo by Flickr user Yogma.

Solo cups lined up for popular college drinking game beer pong. More than 1,800 students die each year from alcohol related incidents in the U.S. Photo by Flickr user Yogma.

PBS NewsHour recently reported on efforts to stop dangerous drinking on college campuses. In the United States, more than 1,800 students die each year from alcohol related incidents. An additional 600,000 students per year are injured while intoxicated, and nearly 100,000 sexual assaults have been linked to alcohol consumption.

While popular culture often portrays binge drinking as an enjoyable and even comical part of the collegiate experience, the risks of excessive alcohol consumption cannot be ignored. What are colleges doing to educate and protect students? What are the most, and least, effective policies to curb drinking on campus? How far does the regulatory reach of universities extend?

We’ll address these questions and more in a Twitter chat this Thursday, Dec. 18, from 1-2 p.m. EST. Karin Fischer (@karinfischer) and Eric Hoover (@erichoov), senior writers for The Chronicle of Higher Education, will weigh in, along with Trisha Seastrom (@CADECChicoState), program director of the Campus Alcohol and Drug Education Center at California State University, Chico. Connor Monda (@PhiSlam), a sophomore at the University of Georgia, and a member of Phi Slam — a group that plans alcohol-free social events for the student body — will share a student’s perspective. Follow the conversation and chime in using #NewsHourChats.

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How ‘Christmas’ should teachers get? A guide for navigating the ‘December Dilemma’

Photo by Flickr user Steven Depolo

The holidays can be a time for explotmulticultural celebrations in the classroom, says educator Syd Golston. Photo by Flickr user Steven Depolo

Editor’s note: During the holidays, teachers often grapple with finding ways to educate students on all types of traditions. Syd Golston, a former president of the National Council for the Social Studies, discusses how educators can approach the issue.

It’s called “the December Dilemma.” As the winter holidays approach, schools are aware that the issue of separating church and state is not just something students encounter in social studies classes, but a real and present concern for teachers and administrators. Is it OK to decorate the school and the classroom for Christmas? What kinds of concerts and plays are constitutional in a public school?

teachersloungeAccording to excellent work by the First Amendment Center and the Anti-Defamation League, the guiding principle is that no doctrinal religious belief or non-belief can be promoted by a public school and its employees, but none can be disparaged either. Over time, the Supreme Court has reaffirmed this principle, but the decisions can be hazy around the edges. There must be a clear educational purpose, not a religious one, to holiday celebrations; that is surely clear when a high school choir sings Handel or an art class studies Renaissance nativity paintings, but what about the Christmas tree?

In Allegheny v. American Civil Liberties Union (1989), a court ruled that Christmas trees have the standing of cultural icons and not religious practices. And in Florey v. Sioux Falls School District (1980), the court wrote:

 “The First Amendment does not forbid all mention of religion in public schools; it is the advancement or inhibition of religion that is prohibited. … Hence, the study of religion is not forbidden “when presented objectively as part of a secular program of education.” … We view the term “study” to include more than mere classroom instruction; public performance may be a legitimate part of secular study. This does not mean, of course, that religious ceremonies can be performed in the public schools under the guise of “study.” It does mean, however, that when the primary purpose served by a given school activity is secular, that activity is not made unconstitutional by the inclusion of some religious content.”

Cheryl Drazin, the southwest civil rights counsel of the Anti-Defamation League, says that she often hears two kinds of complaints: religious-based practices or parties in classrooms and all-school celebrations. Still, many schools have avoided the advancement of any certain religion by approaching it as an inclusive study of many holidays at once, most of which occur in or near the winter solstice anyway: the Jewish Chanukah, Hindu Diwali, Buddhist Tet, Kwanzaa, the Muslim Bayram (which occurs later in spring). Concerts include music that isn’t tied to holidays at all and multicultural selections from around the world. Tree in the classroom: yes. Crèche beneath it: no.

The worst idea is to avoid controversy by failing to teach about religion, both at holiday times and throughout the school year. It is not just permissible, but imperative in our global society to understand the religious history and practice of world religions; it’s often cited that Americans suffer from a woeful ignorance of the difference between Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims. Students in the early grades should have an age-appropriate introduction to world religions, which is particularly appropriate in December. Secondary students would benefit from thoughtful inquiry of the role that many religious traditions and holidays play in the world’s regions, historically and currently.

In my own experience, we are getting better at separation of church and state in schools. My son John’s sixth-grade teacher assigned students essays on “The True Meaning of Christmas to Me” in 1985. Last week, I attended John’s son’s band concert, where the fifth and sixth-graders played a couple of Christmas carols, a Beatles song and the finale of the 1812 Overture.

What does your school do about the December Dilemma? What are your thoughts?

For more, visit the First Amendment Center’s short and clear set of directives for schools. More extensive is this guide from the Anti-Defamation League.

Syd Golston is a former president of the National Council for the Social Studies.

Editor’s note: this post has been updated to correct the spelling of Cheryl Drazin’s name.

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What does the oft-cited ’1 in 5′ campus sexual assault stat really mean?

The Rotunda at the University of Virginia

Sexual assaults on college campuses have been a topic of national interest recently, in large part because of the explosive allegations, and subsequent inconsistencies, from a student at the University of Virginia. Photo by Flickr user Phil Roeder

If there’s a conversation taking place about the prevalence of campus sexual assault in the United States, the phrase “one in five” is usually within earshot.

“It is estimated that one in five women on college campuses has been sexually assaulted during their time there,” President Obama said in January. Obama has cited the statistic multiple times throughout the last few years, as have Vice President Joe Biden and the U.S. Department of Education. Senators use the statistic when writing legislation or holding hearings. Pundits and columnists have opened many an editorial with it, and it’s a favorite of student activists, frequently appearing on hand-written signs at protests and marches.

For many it’s a number that has helped galvanize a movement — an encapsulation of just how large the problem of campus sexual assault is. But for others, including some sexual assault prevention advocates and some who question the current focus on sexual assault on campus, the statistic can be a distraction, a lightning rod that generates more arguments than solutions and overshadows other research on the topic.

And many question just how accurate the figure is. John Foubert, founder of sexual assault prevention group One in Four, said the proliferation of one-in-five “drives him nuts.”

“It’s so widespread because the of the Obama administration’s use of it,” he said. “I think they probably got some bad advice about which stat to cite because there are more reliable stats out there. The one in five statistic, it’s from reputable researchers and a reputable study, but you can’t really use those findings to generalize the whole United States.”

That’s because the statistic comes from a 2007 study that is based on a survey of just two colleges. Funded by the National Institute of Justice, the “Campus Sexual Assault Study” summarizes the online survey results of male and female students at two large public institutions. Nineteen percent, or about one in five, of the female respondents said they had experienced an attempted or completed sexual assault since starting college.

Defining Sexual Assault

Other critics have focused not so much on the limited scope of the survey, but rather its broad definition of sexual assault, which includes kissing and groping. The study’s definition of sexual assault includes both rape — described as oral, anal, and vaginal penetration — and sexual battery, which was described as “sexual contact only, such as forced kissing and fondling.” Some argue that an unwanted kiss should not be conflated with other kinds of more severe sexual assault or rape.

A version of that debate recently appeared on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” during a discussion about Rolling Stone’s article about sexual assault at the University of Virginia. When CNN’s Van Jones mentioned the one in five statistic, Rich Lowry, editor of the National Review, interrupted her to call the stat “bogus.”

“That statistic is based on a survey that includes attempted forced kissing as sexual assault,” Lowry said. “That is not a real number.”

“Can I kiss you?” Jones replied. “Can I kiss you here against your will? That’s an assault. That is a sexual assault.”

After reporting on a horrific case of sexual assault at the University of Virginia, Rolling Stone magazine acknowledged discrepancies in the victim’s story, saying their trust in her was “misplaced.”

Laura Dunn, executive director of sexual assault prevention group SurvJustice, said the fact that some people still balk at the idea of unwanted kissing being considered sexual assault is a result of the criminal justice system frequently focusing on only the worst kinds of sexual violence. It’s caused a particular image of sexual assault to form in people’s heads, she said, and it’s an image denies a much broader expanse of offenses.

“People who deny this issue don’t believe something like an unwanted kiss is harmful, but it is,” Dunn said. “I think there’s an idea in our society that says if a man’s not using a gun or beating a woman, then it’s O.K. to be pushy and aggressive, or to wait until she’s drunk. We really think of some sexual aggression as really not that bad, and that mentality extends to the survivors as well. In these surveys, if you use broader legal terms, you actually get less reporting.”

Indeed, when a survey doesn’t include specific examples of what researchers mean by rape and sexual assault, the rate of sexual assault is much lower because most survey respondents, she said, only include rapes and not other forms of assault.

A report released last week by the Bureau of Justice Statistics and based on the National Crime Victimization Survey, found that the rate for sexual assault among college women is 6.1 in 1,000. If one in five is considered by some to overestimate the rate of sexual assault, the opposite is true for the NCVS numbers. Even the bureau itself has expressed doubts about the survey’s ability to accurately count cases of sexual assault, and earlier this year it asked the National Research Council to look into the matter.

The council’s conclusion: by using “ambiguous” words and phrases like “rape,” the bureau is likely undercounting rape and sexual assault. Studies have repeatedly shown that many young women who are survivors of rape and sexual assault have trouble identifying it as such.

Similar Findings

Another point of confusion that surrounds “one in five,” is what it’s actually referring to. The original study suggests that one in five college women have experienced a completed or attempted sexual assault, again with a definition that covered just about any unwanted physical interaction. The percentage of women in the study who specifically experienced completed sexual assaults was 13.7 percent. That some of the assaults were not actually completed is often omitted by pundits and politicians, but it’s an important distinction, Dunn said.

“Only about one-third of campus rapes are completed,” she said.

Despite the Campus Sexual Assault Study’s shortcomings as a national barometer of the issue, other research has yielded similar findings – though with some caveats. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey found that the rate of women who experience sexual assault is one in five, though that rate is for all women in instead of just those going to college. That survey, too, has been questioned for its classification of having sex while intoxicated in any way as a sexual assault.

Then there’s the statistic that gives John Foubert’s organization its name: one in four. That comes from a Justice Department survey of 4,000 college women in 2006 that found that nearly one-quarter of college women have survived rape or attempted rape in their lifetime, a figure that doesn’t account for sexual assaults that are not rape. While the study is of college women, the rape could have occurred at any point in their lives.

“I think it helps to have reliable statistics as it helps people understand how massive a problem this is,” Foubert said. “It helps people realize that this is not just happening two or three times a year on a particular campus. This is widespread. I hope people would be concerned if this was even just happening once a year, but that fact is that it’s happening far more than that, and we need reliable research to demonstrate that.”

A national survey conducted by the Medical University of South Carolina in 2007 found that more than 12 percent of college women had been raped, not just sexually assaulted, which is about the same percentage of women in the one-in-five study who said they were raped. The researchers calculated that about 5 percent of college women are raped annually, an estimate that is backed up by separate research by the American College Health Association. That’s about 300,000 female students raped every year, vastly larger number than what the Bureau of Justice Statistics calculates. According to its new report, 30,000 college women were raped in 2013.

While 30,000 is a much smaller number than 300,000, many advocates say colleges should view even 30,000 as a terrible figure, representing far too many female students whose rights have been violated and whose well-being has been endangered, and one that should not be viewed as acceptable.

More research still needs to be done to get a better sense of just how prevalent campus sexual assault truly is, Dunn said, but she believes the few available numbers are already painting a bleak and clear enough picture.

“I believe in the one in five statistic wholeheartedly because I am a survivor and I remember how many of my friends disclosed that it had happened to them too,” she said. “Most women don’t doubt this statistic because we are aware in our conversations how common sexual violence is in our experience.”

Inside Higher Ed is a free, daily online publication covering the fast-changing world of higher education.

PBS NewsHour coverage of higher education is supported by the Lumina Foundation and American Graduate: Let’s Make it Happen, a public media initiative made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

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Why haven’t efforts worked to stop dangerous drinking at college?


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JUDY WOODRUFF: There’s a growing recognition about the prevalence of sexual assault on college campuses, and it seems new headlines each week, including the high-profile investigations currently under way at the University of Virginia.

One major factor that’s getting less attention, and yet accompanies many cases, is the volume of drinking happening on or near campus.

That’s our focus tonight.

Gwen has a conversation we recorded earlier this week.

GWEN IFILL: The scenes you find of college parties on the Web and in the movies play up the fun, the rowdy moments, the sheer “Animal House” craziness of campus life.

But a recently renewed discussion about rape allegations has thrown a fresh spotlight onto the dark side of problems associated with excessive drinking at institutions of higher learning. More than 1,800 students die each year from alcohol-related incidents; 600,000 students have been injured while drunk and nearly 100,000 sexual assaults have been reported that were linked to alcohol intoxication.

We talk with two people who have seen the problem close up.

Jonathan Gibralter is the president of Frostburg State University in Maryland, which has about 5,000 students. He’s the co-chair of a college presidents working group to address student drinking. And Beth McMurtrie is with “The Chronicle of Higher Education” and she’s part of a team that just finished a special series, “Alcohol’s Hold on Campus.”

Welcome to you both.

JONATHAN GIBRALTER, Frostburg State University: Thank you.

GWEN IFILL: We just talked about death, injury, sexual assault, President Gibraltar. Of those three, which would you say are the biggest consequence of excessive drinking?

JONATHAN GIBRALTER: I think all of them are the biggest consequence of excessive drinking. And excessive drinking is the thing that I think brings about a lot of these related harms to a lot of college students today. And I consider even one of them to be extremely serious.

GWEN IFILL: Beth McMurtrie, wasn’t this declared a problem in the 1990s? I am certain this is not the first conversation we have had about drinking on campus, yet here we are again.

BETH MCMURTRIE, The Chronicle of Higher Education: I know.

And I think that’s the thing that struck me as I was reporting this story. If you go back in time to the ’90s and even earlier, you see that this was part of a national conversation. And millions of dollars and hundreds of task forces and so many efforts have been put into this issue over the years to try to address the problem of dangerous drinking on college campuses.

But when you look at the data and you look at the binge drinking rates among college students, not a whole lot has changed.

GWEN IFILL: So, why didn’t the problem as identified turn into action?

BETH MCMURTRIE: Well, I think there has been action over the years.

And I think what did you see among colleges is that they tend to focus on education as a means for changing students’ behavior, this idea that if you give students the right information, that they will make wiser choices. But the research has shown education without enforcement and without intervention, without trying to control the flow of alcohol on campus, really has a very limited and a very short-term effect.

GWEN IFILL: Let’s ask president Gibraltar about that.

You have been part of this commission, but you also have to see this every single day in your job.

JONATHAN GIBRALTER: I think — and Beth is exactly right. I think that the important thing to recognize is that, in colleges and universities every year, you have a new group of freshmen. So it’s a new educational process.

Beyond that, though, just educating young people alone isn’t enough. It’s got to be a comprehensive initiative to approach this problem. And that includes both working with a local community, working with your college or university community, working with your alumni, but it also has to include deterrents.

At Frostburg State, we have a collaborative law enforcement agreement and our university police work closely with several different law enforcement agencies to work off campus and be able to work — you know, to really get at adjudicating these young people who get citations for off-campus behavior.

GWEN IFILL: And yet, Beth McMurtrie, in the series that you did in “The Chronicle of Higher Education,” there’s a term which — that caught my eye called the Organized Collegiate Drinking Infrastructure. That’s to say, the fraternities, the sororities, party culture, tailgating, you name it.

How do you tackle that, especially when it’s so much a part of the identity and even an Ivy League school like Yale, where 62 percent of students said they binge drink?


Well, I want to start out by saying this is a huge cultural issue. It’s not just a college issue. And so colleges do inherit this problem. But, as you pointed out, there are a lot of constituencies that are kind of actively working against efforts to control alcohol.

I think the simple answers is it, requires leadership, because this is in some ways a political — a political issue.

GWEN IFILL: On campus.

BETH MCMURTRIE: If you’re going to take on the fraternity system, if you’re going to take on the tailgating structure, the booster structure, you really have to — or if you’re going to go out, as Frostburg did, into the community and look at what is happening off campus with bar owners and liquor stores, you really need high-level support to be able to tackle these very complicated and sometimes political issues.

GWEN IFILL: So is it just a matter that the colleges or the law enforcement are just looking the other way? The laws exist. The rules exist. Are they just looking the other way?

JONATHAN GIBRALTER: I don’t think they’re looking the other way.

I think that these are just incredibly difficult issues. You know, you deal perhaps with a fraternity or a sorority perhaps off campus and there is a culture around these organizations that makes it extremely difficult for law enforcement to actually walk in and be able to have an impact.

I think that — I mean, at Frostburg State, when I arrived in 2006, the reported high-risk drinking rate was at about 59 percent; 59 percent of all students said they drink more than five drinks in any one sitting. We have been able to…

GWEN IFILL: Five drinks.

JONATHAN GIBRALTER: Five drinks in — over a period of two or three hours. Now it’s down to 41 percent. We have been able to move the mark below the national average.


JONATHAN GIBRALTER: Through a combination of deterrents, education, and working with local bar owners, working with landlords, and really trying to provide a comprehensive program for our students.

GWEN IFILL: When it comes to campus sexual assault, which we have been talking about a lot involving the University of Virginia and the flawed story that “Rolling Stone” ran, but still raised questions about behavior.

Is drinking — does drinking contribute to the inability of a woman to defend herself, especially if she drinks, is drunk, becomes a victim in one way or another, and looks like she — and the blame then shifts to the victim?

BETH MCMURTRIE: Well, you raise a very interesting issue.

Studies have shown that about three-quarters of sexual assaults on campuses involve alcohol, so we know that they’re closely correlated. But, historically, colleges have not talked about drinking or not talked about alcohol when they talk to students about preventing sexual assaults.

And I think the reason is they’re worried that they’re going to end up sounding like they are blaming the victim. They already have trouble getting victims to come forward, and so they don’t want to send this message that, well, it’s up to you to, right? It’s up to you to — if you drink too much, you might be putting yourself at risk of assault.

And, yet, that is a fact. And so colleges are wrestling with how to talk to students about the reality of dangerous drinking without sounding like they’re blaming them.

GWEN IFILL: Well, President Gibralter, how do colleges attack this now and avoid the issue fatigue that stopped the conversation from moving to some better place last time?

JONATHAN GIBRALTER: I — again, every year, it’s a new group of freshmen, so it’s a new conversation every year.

And for me, taking a leadership position on this at my campus is extremely important that empowers other people to be able to do their jobs. And so I don’t — neither I nor my university faculty and staff become fatigued of me talking about this topic. It’s important.

GWEN IFILL: But if I’m a parent, I’m a little fatigued or at least scared of sending my child to your school, if I think that that’s what’s going to happen.

JONATHAN GIBRALTER: And you should be concerned, because it is a cultural part of many colleges and universities.

And what I do during our orientation programs and during our open houses, where parents and their sons and daughters visit, is I tell parents that they need to be a part of this conversation. We need their help and support.

GWEN IFILL: President Jonathan Gibralter of Frostburg State University and Beth McMurtrie of “The Chronicle of Higher Education,” thank you both very much.



PBS NewsHour education coverage is part of American Graduate: Let’s Make it Happen, a public media initiative made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

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