Alcohol Abuse In American Youth Essay, Research Paper
It has been stated in each research source that hazing and particularly binge drinking is the most serious problem affecting social life, academic life, and health on college campuses today. The journal article pertaining to this issue, How Harvard?s College Alcohol Study Can Help Your Campus Design a Campaign Against Student Alcohol Abuse (CAS: Campus Alcohol Study for short), focuses more heavily on binge drinking and prevention than it does on the Greek system itself. The authors, Wechsler, Nelson, and Weitzman, contend that binge drinking is a nationally recognized problem but has not been studied efficiently enough to warrant effective prevention plans. The purpose of this article is to share with the public the results of a survey representing 50,000 students in 140 colleges, in 39 states. This is the first nationally representative survey of its kind and the analysis of its outcome by the authors of this article has resulted in seemingly sound prevention ideas.
To begin interpreting the binge drinking phenomenon, a solid understanding of the term must be presented. Binge drinking is defined by all the articles as consuming five or more drinks in rapid succession (four or more for women) at least once in a two week period. Shockingly, the College Alcohol Study (CAS) found that two out of every five college students binge drink. The authors of this article argue that binge drinking has negative effects not only on the drinkers, but also on the entire student body. The binge drinker might get alcohol poisoning, other related physical injuries, or weakened academic performance, while the non-binging students are subjected to insults, arguments, vandalism, physical and sexual assaults, and loss of sleep due to alcohol influenced peers.
The next topic that the article gets into is the different areas that change need be made to lessen the presence of binge drinking and ways in which these changes might be made. The first idea presented is that simply educating students about alcohol abuse and related problems is not effective. The CAS shows that four out of five students have been exposed to anti-alcohol education and still two out of these five binge drink, let alone drink at all. In fact, Wechsler, Nelosn, and Weitzman state that most members of predominant binge drinking groups like athletes and Greek organizations openly admit to being educated in this area. These findings display how ineffective alcohol education on college campuses is.
After eliciting what not to do, the Wechsler, Nelosn, and Weitzman show the reader what the simple numbers from the CAS suggest be done. First they explain that the college administration has to realize that they have a lot more student support in the fight against binge drinking than they think. The CAS results showed that more than half of all college students favor more college intervention. This idea leads into the authors? next one, which is the whole idea of marginalizing the serious drinkers.
Serious binge drinkers are not aware of their problem and are usually very loud and vocal when protesting anti-drinking policies. These hardcore bingers however, only represent a small percent of all drinkers and an even smaller percent of the student body. The authors suggest that steps be taken to marginalize this small group of heavy drinkers by reversing some misleading policies. Presently alcohol-free dorms are available upon request by students. Wechsler, Nelosn, and Weitzman believe that the alcohol consuming students should have to request separate dorms, not the other way around. The current method creates the illusion that most students consume alcohol and tend to quiet potential anti-alcohol advocates.
Lastly, the fact that alcohol is cheap, plentiful and easy to get in college towns creates great appeal to college students. For less than five dollars (half the price of one movie ticket) under age students can purchase enough alcohol to ?drink themselves silly.? In the past, colleges have fought a battle against fake ID?s, but now the CAS says that only one in five underage drinkers use and phony ID. The method of choice is to get beer and liquor from older students. ?One third of older students have been asked by underage students to provide them with alcohol, and almost all complied. This is one student norm that needs to be challenged!?
Arguing many similar points is Adam Cohen in his New York Times article ?Battle of the Binge.? This article investigates the drinking habits of Louisiana State University where 20 year old Ben Wynne died from alcohol poisoning. After an off campus kegger, the fraternity boys moved to a local bar where they continued to drink into the wee hours of the morning. The next morning, Wynne was dead and three other frat members were seriously alcohol poisoned. All this occurred even though L.S.U. is an alcohol free campus.
Combined with the information given by the CAS, this article further proves the point that a better prevention plan should be instated. Even though a college might ban alcohol from its campus, that does not mean that it will eliminate alcohol related problems. Students are able to go to off campus bars where older students will gladly buy the beers and bring them to the table. Bars and off campus parties also promote binge drinking with policies like six dollar all-you-can-drink specials, beat-the-clock drinking and ladder pricing.
There is a no drinking policy in effect in L.S.U. but neither this fact, nor the fact that he was underage stopped Wynne from drinking himself to death. As long as college towns continue their leniency with underage drinking, college students will be plagued with the tragedies binge drinking causes.
JoAnn M. Arnholt is taking prevention to the next level as described in ?At Rutgers Fraternities: an End to the Age of Big Wild Parties?? This new administrator at Rutgers college in New Jersey is planning on prohibiting alcohol everywhere on campus and even in off campus, private Fraternity houses. Arnholt contends that alcohol in Rutgers fraternities is responsible for crashing GPA levels and is not helping the criminal fines that keep adding up against the frats. She and other administrators believe that alcohol in frat houses acts as ?an impediment to a healthy learning environment and a breeding ground for hazing.?
Fraternity members don?t approve of this plan and feel that ?drying up? the privately owned fraternity houses is violating the frat members rights. They also believe that this new movement will decrease the appeal of fraternities. Lastly, members of fraternities at Rutgers feel that they are being directly attacked because other student owned non-Greek affiliated houses are not being required to end alcohol consumption.
Arnholt?s plan might be a little too agressive and could very well back fire on her. By illegalizing the key elements of fraternity life, she is actually making them more attractive to students. Students might take the opportunity, should it ever arise now, to drink as much as they can, because they knwo that will not always be available. Analysis of the CAS might produce a better alternative for Rutgers than what Arnholt has thought up.
Surprisingly, hazing and, as a result, binge drinking, is even present in college sports where physical maintenance is required. In ?College Sports: Survey Concludes Hazing Is Common? the results of a survey given to 10,000 college athletes, 3,000 coaches, and 1,000 other officials were discussed. It was concluded that about 80 percent of all college athletes are hazed, a lot more than previously held. This hazing was present in teams from Division I through III and included dangerous acts like kidnapping, vandalism, the forced wearing of embarrassing clothing, and, of course, binge drinking. The study also concluded that men are at a higher risk of getting hazed than are women.
It is most surprising that such dangerous activities are participated in by college athletes. From a young age, we are told that athletes must be physically and mentally strong and determined. Unfortunately, the growing epidemic of hazing binge drinking has weaseled its way into one of America?s most respected areas of life; sports.
The final article ?Hazing: A Rite Gone Wrong? shows how hazing is a part of many different levels of schooling and sports and even in other areas of life. Michael Dobie, author of this article explains that horrific acts of hazing have occurred even at the High School levels. For example, there have been reports of drinking games, beatings, dangerous scavenger hunts, consumption of gross liquids, shaving heads, mimicked sex acts and even eating live goldfish. Other activities include ?Butts-Up? where a soccer ball is kicked at a freshmen’s rear at point blank range. Towards the end of the article, the author does go into the few high schools who have decided to take a stand against hazing, by educating their players.
My opinion has not really changed on this topic, because prior to this paper, I had not this first idea what hazing and other aspects of college social life was about. In terms of the issues, I am strongly against binge drinking. It is by far the most stupid risk a person can take. I do not feel, however that it is fair to put an end to drinking on a college campus. I strongly believe that the consumption of alcohol is, when done properly a totally acceptable social activity.
?College Sports: Survey Concludes Hazing Is Common? New York Times 31 Aug.
Budoff, Carrie. ?At Rutgers Fraternities: An End to the Age of Big Wild Parties?? New Jersey Weekly Desk 8 Mar. 1998
Cohen, Adam. ?Battle of The Binge? Time 8 Sept. 1997
Dobie, Michael. ?Hazing: A Rite Gone Wrong? Newsday 12 Dec. 1999
All editions: C04
Nelson, Toben; Wechsler, Henry; Weitzman, Elissa. ?How Harvard?s College Alcohol
Study Can Help Your Campus Design a Campaign Against Student Alcohol
Abuse? Heldref Publications Jan/Feb 2000
Vol. 32 Issue 1 p. 38-43