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Monday, November 1, 1999 Published at 17:01 GMT


Mozart sobers up students

Music will calm down Pittsburgh's students at weekend

Mozart is the latest weapon in a university's battle against student drinking.

The University of Pittsburgh is experimenting with playing classical music around the campus - in the belief that the soothing sound might dissuade students from getting drunk.

A pair of 450-watt speakers outside the campus police station blasts out the work of Mozart and other classical composers, targeting an area where many student parties are held.

[ image: Excessive drinking has become a major concern for universities across the United States]
Excessive drinking has become a major concern for universities across the United States
The initiative, launched by the university's chief of police, Deborah Furka, will run through the term, with music playing from Thursday to Saturday from 10pm to 2am.

Before the experiment began, the police videotaped the area, with plans to make further tapes in the future so that the atmospheres before and after the intervention of Mozart can be compared.

"We won't be able to stop students drinking, but it might create a calmer and more rational atmosphere," said university spokesman, Ken Service.

The mood-altering powers of Mozart, it is hoped by the university, will encourage students to moderate their drinking - even though the composer's own hard-living and early death resembled the pop stars that the university hopes students will not emulate.

Drinking-related deaths

This is the latest initiative funded by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, which is investing over $500,000 in experimental approaches to cutting alcohol abuse among young people across the state.

Excessive drinking among students has been a concern for university authorities across the United States, with 16 drinking-related deaths in colleges since 1997.

"Binge drinking by college students is a national concern and helping our students understand and avoid the risks associated with that behaviour is a continuing priority for us," the university's chancellor, Mark A Nordenberg, said earlier this term.

Ken Service said that even though students could not legally drink until they were 21 years old, there was much peer pressure on young people to drink.

As well as playing music, Pittsburgh has an ongoing campaign to reduce student drinking, with promotional events such as alcohol-free parties and 'Drink less' poster campaigns that illustrate the health risks..

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