Drinking On College Campuses Essay, Research Paper
To Drink or Not To Drink:
For Many College Students Binging is the Only Way
Your eighteen years old and living away from your parents for the first time. You can sign legal documents, you are eligible for the draft, you can make your own decisions, but you still can t legally consume alcoholic beverages. You are finally an adult, but are you? Under US law, one must be over the age of 21 to buy or consume alcoholic beverages. However, on a college campus, the focus is not on the consumption of alcohol, but binge drinking. Binge drinking, or the consumption of five beers for men and four for women in a row, is responsible for most underage drinking accidents. Alcohol poisoning, and drunk driving are two of the biggest problems facing underage college students.
The problem with binge drinking is that the body looses the ability to process alcohol at the speed in which consumed. Unfortunately students are often un-aware of the effects rapid alcohol consumption can have on the body. The inability to process thoughts and the body s inability to reject alcohol, in the form of vomiting, make binge drinking dangerous for the drinker.
In the early 80 s, in an attempt to reduce drunk driving, drinking between the ages of 18 and 21 was banned. Due to the ages of people affected by this ban, colleges felt the social change more than anywhere else. The ban on underage drinking forced a college past time to go underground and into the shot glasses of students, and for minors resulted in the social activity of binge drinking. Underclassmen where no longer allowed to drink in public and were forced to drink behind closed doors with no possibility of being monitored by adults.
Out of concern for the nations underage drinkers, in 1989 a survey was conducted by the American Medical Association to determine whether the governments new drinking laws were effective. The study showed 40.9% of men and 37% of women reported getting drunk one to three times a month. These figures were then compared to a survey conducted in 1977 in which only 25% of men and 14% of women had the same drinking habits. (Geewax)
In the late nineties we are forced to reflect upon the binge drinking nature of college and ask ourselves what caused binging to become an every day habit. Is it the inability for underage drinkers to surface and practice their trade with responsible adults? Henry Wechsler, who headed the study and is the director of the Youth Drug-Alcohol Program at Harvard School of Public Health, seems to believe so.
People over 21 really can t drink with younger people, so there are no role models, Without elders around, young adults don t see much responsible drinking. The fact that we re segregating drinkers has contributed to this illicit culture where binging is common. (Geewax)
Alienating students from liquor gives them no chance to ease into drinking, but only propels them into situations for which they are not prepared. Earlier this year a student in the Long Street Dorm at Emory, attended his first fraternity party. The student was not familiar with drinking, but went to the party with the intent to drink. A few hours later this student was found by other students laying in the long street Parking lot unconscious and was rushed to the hospital to have his stomach pumped.
Binge drinking now occurs on college campuses nation-wide. Administrators are trying to control the issue by creating dry or alcohol free campuses; they are actually increasing binge drinking. But who is to blame? Campus administrators can t allow underage drinking because it is a violation of federal law. However, students, for the most part, have no intention to obey such laws. Students feel drinking is not the problem, but over indulgence is. Simply put, It s college said Emory University Student Jennifer Citron, 21, I don t think anything has changed over the past 60 years. (Schneider) However, over the past 60 years things have changed. More students are suffering from drinking. Whether it is alcohol poisoning or car crashes, students are feeling the effects of drinking more than they had in the past. Many believe students will never learn by their predecessor s mistakes alone, but need to be helped by outside forces.
Many institutions have realized this and have chosen to educate their students through funding from the Robert Wood Johnson foundation and the American Medical Association. The funding is used to implement a new program, A matter of degree: Reducing High-Risk Drinking among college students. The program is meant to raise awareness and teach the effects of binge drinking to students. (Suggs) Ten universities have now implemented the program for different reasons
Georgia Tech is one of the ten universities participating in the program. An incident in October of 1997 in which a fraternity had to be disciplined, after forcing a pledge drink 28 shots of rum and three beers in the course of one night, made university administrators feel the need to address binging on and off campus by students.(Suggs) They use the program to educate high-risk students, such as fraternity and sorority members, who they feel are prone to binge or force pledges and under classmen without thinking.
Although many colleges have come a long way in loosening their alcohol policies, there is room for improvement. College students should not be penalized for drinking responsibly, but school administrators need to create guidelines for what is responsible. A 250-pound football player should not be penalized for dinking a beer, where as a fraternity should for making a pledge drink 30 shots in a night.
There is no concrete evidence that proves through education, alcohol related illness will fall. However, administrators can no longer sit back and expect stricter policies and more security control the problem. Heading into the twenty first century, it is time for university administrators to realize that they are endangering the lives of innocent underclassmen by not teaching the effects of alcohol, and punishing underage drinkers. They must recognize, in order to create a safe environment for underclassmen they must educate students of the dangers of drinking, and not steer them away from casual drinking.
Flaherty, Julie. Ad Campaign Focuses on Binge Drinking by College Students.
New York Times 8 September. 1999
Geewax, Marilyn. Pour it light, but don t stop the drinking on college campuses.
Atlanta Journal and Constitution 12 June. 1992 A/11.
Kendall, Allston. In My Opinion: Legal drinking age should be 18. Atlanta
Journal and Constitution 14 November. 1997 A/23.
Schneider, Craig. New uproar, old refrain: Drinking is part of college life.
Atlanta Journal and Constitution 13 October. 1997 A/1.
Suggs, Ernie. Drinking at Tech scrutinized: Grant awarded to address binge
Consumption of alcohol by students. Atlanta Journal and Constitution 18 September. 1998 C/2.