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Most students at Penn could tell you that underage students obtain alcohol with ease.

But a team of researchers at Harvard University recently confirmed what some might call the obvious.

According to a study released last week, underage drinking is on the rise, with underage students paying less per drink than their of-age counterparts.

The report -- based on a 1997 survey of students at 130 universities -- concluded that approximately two-thirds of underage college students had consumed alcohol in the last 30 days.

And of the students polled, the researchers found that 57 percent usually pay less than a dollar for a drink, get drinks for free or pay a set price for an unlimited number of drinks.

The study -- performed by a team of researchers from UCLA, Harvard and St. Joseph's Universities -- claimed that alcohol consumption and abuse are becoming accepted at many universities.

"In college settings, where about half of the students are under 21, regular use and abuse of alcohol is part of many student's environments," Harvard researcher Henry Weschler said in a press release.

The report concluded by urging schools to limit the sale of beer in large volumes, restrict events such as happy hours and offer unlimited drinks for a small fee.

But University Alcohol Coordinator Stephanie Ives said she was not surprised by the report's findings.

"This data is consistent with what has been said for the last 10, 20, 30, 40 years about college life," Ives said.

Ives said that the University was already taking steps to prevent underage drinking, pointing both to the University's current alcohol monitoring system and to the activities unrelated to alcohol offered by the University.

"Everything has to be done in a balance," she continued. "The last thing you want to do is chase drinking around."

However, Ives noted that Penn had recently been studying binge drinking because it poses more danger for students.

But according to the Harvard study, underage students are more likely to binge drink than older students.

The study found that nearly 42 percent of underage college students had consumed at least five alcoholic beverages in one sitting in the past two weeks -- compared with only 27 percent of those students over the age of 21.

Ives said Penn has yet to examine how underage students obtain alcohol.

"We have collected data at Penn, but the one question we did not ask was how students acquired alcohol," Ives said.

The research team said the largest factor for the increase was the ease with students under 21 could access alcohol.

Fifty-four percent of the polled underage students claimed that it was "very easy" to obtain alcohol through the use of a fake ID or through an of-age friend.

The report also attributed their findings to the high density of alcohol outlets characteristic of many college campuses.

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