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U. Michigan student's death shows risk of binge drinking

A University of Michigan student died Monday after attempting to drink 21 shots on his 21st birthday - one of the many binge drinking traditions that are becoming all too common on campuses across the country.

Byung Soo Kim, a sophomore engineering student, passed out early Saturday morning after taking 20 shots of Scotch whiskey in about 10 minutes during a party. His friends had put him in a back bedroom to recover.

An hour later, they discovered Kim was not breathing and called an ambulance. Although Kim was resuscitated, he died Monday morning following more than two days in intensive care.

Marianne Bell, health educator for the University's Center for Alcohol and Substance Abuse Education (CASE), said binge drinking is also a problem here.

"High-risk drinking is certainly present here and can often lead to negative consequences for our students as well as the entire [University] community," Bell said.

There are many programs on Grounds targeted at preventing high-risk drinking, she said.

Fourth Years Ending Stupid Traditions (FEST), a group run by the Class of 2001 trustees, asks students to sign a pledge promising not to participate in the "fourth-year fifth" tradition - the practice of attempting to consume a fifth of alcohol the day of the University's last home football game.

Students who bring the signed pledge cards to Saturday's game can redeem them for cups that entitle them to free non-alcoholic beverages during the event.

Sixteen percent of fourth years attempted the fourth-year fifth last year, Bell said.

The Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Team (ADAPT), a peer education group, is sponsoring Alcohol Awareness Week this week to discourage students from drinking the fifth.

The week includes many speakers, forums and activities addressing alcohol and drug issues and culminates in an alcohol-free tailgate party before the game on Saturday.

As part of Alcohol Awareness week, Linda Hancock, assistant director of health promotion at Virginia Commonwealth University, gave a presentation entitled "Love N' Liquor - What's Normal? What's Not?" to an audience of about 250 students last night in the Physics Auditorium.

Hancock stressed the correlation between alcohol use and contraction of STDs, noting that people are more likely to have unprotected sex when under the influence of alcohol.

While reported incidents of binge drinking at the University have decreased in recent years, there is still room for improvement, Bell said.