LAS CRUCES The alcohol-poisoning death of a New Mexico State University student raises questions about the cultural tolerance of drinking on college campuses and in fraternities and sororities nationwide.
While drinking on campus is nothing new, it leads to scores of deaths and other problems each year.
Steve Judd died Nov. 19 after a night of binge drinking with his fraternity brothers to celebrate his 21st birthday.
Four other college students, at universities in Colorado, Oklahoma and Arkansas, have died of alcohol poisoning this semester. Three of those were fraternity related. One death took place during a fraternity initiation; two others occurred after heavy drinking at fraternity parties.
As a result of the death at the University of Oklahoma, school officials banned drinking in fraternities and residence halls.
Drinking among college students is a widespread problem. According to the federal government, 1,400 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die each year from alcohol-related injuries most involving motor vehicle accidents.
Police consider Judds death a result of his own bad choices, but are also investigating the two bars he and his friends visited that night to determine whether too much alcohol was served. In addition, NMSU is investigating whether any action is warranted against anyone, including the Delta Chi fraternity, and whether any policies need revision.
Judds father said there is plenty of guilt to go around: His son made the choice to drink too much, fraternity brothers didnt stop him, and the bars may have overserved him.
If he can make such a stupid mistake that cost him his life, Steven Judd Sr. said, it can happen to any kid.