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Alcoholic energy drinks discussed

John Cameron | Monday, December 6, 2010

At Monday’s Campus Life Council (CLC) meeting, members discussed a memo presented by Brian Coughlin, assistant vice president for student activities and head of the recently-assembled Alcohol Energy Drink (AED) Working Group.

The memo discussed the progress of the group in responding to issues related to student use of caffeinated alcoholic beverages.

The memo stated that, while the FDA and other governmental agencies have already taken steps to limit or ban the popular Four Loko and Joose drinks, AEDs are still a concern because “some students may still have ‘original’ formula AEDs and/or some students may attempt to make their own should the pre-packaged products no longer be available.”

The memo went on to say the group has not yet decided upon a recommendation to give Fr. Tom Doyle, vice president for student affairs. It has considered three options: banning AEDs across campus, leaving the issue to the discretion of individual rectors, and establishing no formal policy.

The group did, however, indicate it would make continued efforts to increase awareness about the effects of AEDs to students, an idea that Knott Hall senator Alex Kasparie thought would be more effective than a ban.

“I think the biggest thing is the education. I hate to say it, but usually I take a ban as a challenge,” he said. “No ban is going to change the attitude.”

CLC member Ben Noe, a sophomore, suggested emphasizing the fact that AEDs are extremely high in calories as a way to deter students from consuming them.

“We thought it would be pertinent to Notre Dame students who seem to be particularly health conscious,” he said. “Not only that these drinks are dangerous, but also that they are unhealthy for you calorie-wise.”

Christopher Haug, assistant director for residence life and housing, thought raising this point with students could lead to other unhealthy behavior.

“Unfortunately, one of the things we found out across the country is that people do know that, so sometimes they won’t eat dinner and will drink the Four Loko,” he said. “Then they’ll have nothing to metabolize the alcohol with.”

Noe went on to say that the availability and consumption of non-alcoholic energy drinks on campus is a concern within itself. Julia Sutton, SUB director, said the University could only go so far in managing students’ decisions.

“Can’t anything be harmful if overused?” she said. “I think the University can’t go that far. You can’t take energy drinks out of The Huddle unless you take Burger King out.”

Student body vice president Andrew Bell highlighted the aspects of alcohol education that his culture shift task force, which is examining drinking at Notre Dame, plans to address specifically.

“One of the things is the continuous education, that it’s not just overload during your first months at school,” he said.

Bell said educating students about Indiana-specific alcohol laws, increasing student-led alcohol education, and informing students how to help a friend in a dangerous situation will be emphasized in the future.