The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Friday December 9th

ASU Death Brings No Reforms

UNC-system campus administrators say the recent death of an Appalachian State University student will not prompt changes in their alcohol abuse prevention programs.

Philip Thompson, a 21-year-old junior from Charlotte, was found dead Wednesday by his roommate.

Police reports state that the victim's roommate said Thompson consumed a large quantity of alcohol the night before he was found dead in his bed - the night of his 21st birthday. Thompson was last seen visibly intoxicated lying face down in his bed, police reports state.

But Dale Kirkley, ASU director of alcohol and drug assistance programs, said the school has a number of programs, including speakers, in place to prevent drug and alcohol abuse.

Kirkley added that ASU officials are trying to inform the public that most college students do not consistently drink large amounts of alcohol. "This is extreme behavior only the minority takes part in," he said.

But Kirkley said if students do decide to drink heavily, they should be informed of the potential risks.

He added that AWARE - a group that works to prevent substance abuse on the ASU campus - met Monday and decided that a town hall-style meeting will be scheduled sometime in the near future to talk about alcohol abuse in light of Thompson's death.

Kirkley also said campus officials already enforce alcohol laws, which leads to a large number of reported violations. "We have the highest number in the state for offenses, simply because we have a very active response," he said.

Bob Shaffer, ASU associate vice chancellor for public affairs, echoed Kirkley's sentiments, saying ASU's high numbers are not necessarily negative. ASU topped the UNC system's most recent report on alleged drug policy violations, released last January, with 119.

"(Strict enforcement) tends to inflate the numbers, but it also tends to address the issue more fully," Shaffer said.

But officials at other UNC-system schools said the news of Thompson's death would not change their programs already in place to prevent alcohol abuse on campus. "These things happen. We have no way of knowing how many students have died of alcohol poisoning off campus," said Chris Austen, substance abuse prevention educator at N.C. State University.

Austen said the university will institute a new program to dispel some of the myths about college drinking.

Dean Blackburn, UNC-Chapel Hill substance abuse program coordinator, said he had not heard about Thompson's death, but that it would not spur the University to step up substance abuse prevention efforts.

UNC-CH had the lowest incidence of alleged drug policy violations in the system's report with a mere 12 during 1999. Blackburn said, "We try to stay pretty intense all the time."

The State & National Editor can be reached at stntdesk@unc.edu.


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