A study finds undergrads at the University of Iowa have a -serious- problem with alcohol abuse, which one expert says is threatening the state’s future. Peter Nathan, a U-of-I professor of psychology and community and behavioral health, says binge drinking has reached “epidemic proportions” at the U-of-I. Nathan says many freshmen arrive in Iowa City with a drinking problem that started in high school, while nearly seven in ten become binge drinkers upon reaching college. Nathan says “What pushes Iowa toward the very top of the roster of heavy-drinking universities is this local option business, where students who are under 21 can go into the bars and taverns in Iowa City so long as they don’t drink. ‘Course they do drink. Our data suggests they drink actually more than students who are 21 and over.” Nathan says surveys indicate almost 70-percent of U-of-I undergraduates are binge drinkers and almost 50-percent are frequent binge drinkers. Nathan defines binge drinking as consuming five or more drinks in one sitting for men and four or more drinks for women at least once in a two-week period. Frequent binge drinkers follow that pattern at least three times in two weeks. Nathan says “Were I still in university administration, I’d be very, very alarmed. There’s no question that it effects students in many, many ways, above all, it effects them academically.” He says many students who leave the U-of-I after their freshman or sophomore years do so because of grades that have suffered because of their out-of-control drinking. He says “It’s terribly serious in terms of the future of Iowa…its impact on the youth of Iowa’s potential future leaders who will not be able to lead because they won’t have been able to get the kind of education they need.”