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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Drinking, Safety Discussed at Town Hall Meeting

More than 300 attended the event, which touched upon Greek life, binge drinking and university policy.

More than 300 students gathered at a town hall meeting Tuesday night to discuss the prevalence of drinking at USC and to brainstorm changes to foster healthier and safer social practices both on- and off-campus.

The town hall comes in the wake of high profile incidents including the alcohol-related injuries to a Loyola Marymount student at an off-campus party, the recent death of a sophomore that the Los Angeles Police Department has said may be alcohol-related, and around 40 separate ambulance visits thus far this semester.

Organizers, including the Undergraduate Student Government along with the Interfraternity Council, Panhellenic Council and the Division of Student Affairs, say no specific incident prompted the event. The town hall meeting was open only to those with a USC ID card. 

Student discussions at the event were designated off-the-record at the outset, in an effort to foster more candid remarks, organizers said.

Many used the event to raise concerns about the treatment of the Greek community, adding that the Row has become a scapegoat for the administration as it attempts to curb binge drinking. One student said the punitive measures foster resentment. Another student lamented that university drinking policies in the fall semester have compromised established traditions for football gamedays.

The conversation largely centered on university policies and the creation and enforcement thereof, but a few students observed that deeper questions faced the student body at-large.

"Why is binge drinking and blacking out fun?" asked one graduate student, who asked to remain anonymous. "I think that's really the heart of the issue."

Aside from opposing the university administration's disciplinary response to drinking, students voiced concern for the orientation program, saying it inadequately prepared them to negotiate decisions regarding alcohol consumption and their personal safety.

Dr. Ainsley Carry, the vice provost of student affairs, led the discussion and vowed to help bring university policy more in line with the realities of contemporary collegiate life. 

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