Binge Drinking Essay, Research Paper
High school is over and it is your first time away form home, what are you going to do? The typical college student wants to party! Of the people that were surveyed over half believed that the legal drinking age should be lowered. [O’Kane 1] The legal age to drink in the United States is now 21 years old; college freshman, sophomores, and some juniors are not of the legal age to drink. This causes a problem on many campuses; several students are experiencing their first time away from parental care in a setting sinonomus with drinking and clubbing. Some feel pressure from family and friends to receive excellent grades while attending school, sometimes the pressure is too much and going out and getting wasted solves it. This happens all to often on college campuses, and it does happen here at Central Michigan University. Binge drinking is a major problem that needs to be solved, it not only affects your state of mind at the time of drinking but it can also control your way of life.
100% of women over the age of 21 believed that binge drinking was a problem on CMU’s campus, 75% of males over 21, 84% of females under 21, and 42% of males under 21 also thought the same thing. [O’Kane 1] The amount of students that engage in binge drinking vary among campuses throughout the United States, from a low of one percent to a high of 70%. [Wechsler #1, 2] Many students may not know that they are participating in binge drinking while they are at the Pub or a house party. The actual definition of binge drinking is five drinks per night for a male and four drinks per night for a female. [Wechsler #1, 2] Many students might believe that only having four or five drinks a night does not make them a binge drinker, I know I don’t like to think of myself as one but the definition says I am. According to our survey 70% of males under 21 and 53% of females under 21 are considered to be binge drinkers on the fact they drink over four or five drinks per night. [O’Kane 1] The problem of binge drinking is here, no matter what one may think drinking in obscene amounts does happen on this campus, the evidence is clear.
Those that participate in binge drinking do it for many different reasons, a bad test grade, roommate arguments, celebration for a job well done, peer pressure, or simply because it is the weekend. No one is saying that it is wrong to go out and have a few drinks but when students go out and just drink to get drunk, actions must be taken to stop such activity. According to the graph on the next page done by the Harvard Public School of Health it is clear that a majority of students drink to simply get wasted. [Colorado State University 1] The number of binge drinkers may not have gone up in 1999 compared to 1997, for every five students two are binge drinkers, or 44%. [Wechsler #2, 1] However, the intensity of drinking has increased, when students are going out they are having more to drink. [Wechsler #2, 2]
In recent years many universities have begun asking themselves, what can we do to solve the problem? Central Michigan University has alcohol policies for those that live in the dorms, first time that you are found drunk or alcohol is found in your room a fine of $100 is put on to your student account. Third time you are found with alcohol substance you are removed from the university. Many times these situations happen to those that are underage. I came home to the dorms a night after the bar; a resident assistant saw me stumbling and called the police. Not only did I receive a ticket for “Minor in Procession of Alcohol” but CMU also fined me and contacted my parents. The policy typically does not involve informing parents of these dilemmas, but in my case and a few others contact was made. Such programs as this only punishes students after the fact, rarely are there programs that deter people from drinking. The fraternities and sororities on the CMU campus recently began having speakers come and tell stories of drunk driving incidents and of friends dieing from alcohol. I believe that speakers such as these may have an impact on a majority of students. Hearing stories of people my age dieing makes me at least think twice before I order another drink. More programming that deals with prevention should be offered, that might have a bigger impact then being punished after you’re already wasted.
Central should look at programs that other Universities are implementing to help deter binge drinking. Florida State University offers free movie night every night, and Louisiana State University organizes “family zone” alcohol-free festivals. [Wechsler #1, 8] Alcohol-free dorms are offered here at CMU and around the county, but perhaps if Central offered more programming to stop students from going to the bars problems would decrease. Something must be done to prevent binge drinking by those that are 21 and those that are under the legal drinking age. The campus itself shapes the social norm of its students, questions like these need to be asked… is alcohol readily available to students, and does the university strictly enforce the alcohol policies, and is non-alcoholic programs available? [Wechsler #1, 7]
The Harvard School of Health has made a framework of policies that Universities may want to consider; they help in deterring the behavior of binge drinking and punish those that participate in it. Administrators should regulate the conditions of alcohol use on campus; measures to reduce the amount of drinking in problem areas should be taken. [Wechsler #1, 8] Another policy that seems like it would be very helpful is to “Work with the local community to limit student access to alcohol and to support the efforts of local law enforcements.” [Wechsler #1, 8] This policy is one that CMU should examine, with help from local policy the University policy will be backed up in situations that need them. Often student drinking happens off CMU property enabling the campus policy to do anything, it is then up to the Mt. Pleasant Policy Department to take care of these sticky situation. One of the most important policies I believe is to eliminate events that involve alcohol or the bar. “Eliminating sponsorship of events by the alcohol industry and other off-campus marketing,” around the county many administrators have decided to not allow marketing of alcohol products on their Universities. I have experienced this first hand; my sorority has held the annual Mr. PhiSigNificant competition at the Pub for the last five years, with the new policies the University has administered we no longer can have it there because they serve alcohol. I now understand the reasoning behind the new policy and back their decision all the way.
It is obvious that college students have a mind of their own and they will do what ever they choose to do. Wechsler has stated that “We cannot expect the educational approach that most colleges are taking to impact binge drinking rates by itself, there are no magic solutions. Just as no single technique applies to all students, no single approach applies to all colleges.” [Wechsler #2, 3] Steps have been taken here at Central to eliminate binge drinking but as Wechsler said there is not one way that can fix the whole problem. Different means of discipline and detraction of binge drinking need to be considered by the officials of this University. I believe that with more education and heavy consequence, which the students know of, the problem may decline and improve. This is a problem that wont go away with on policy or procedure, it’ll take time and hard work by all the parties involved. Students must first acknowledge that they have a problem and that they want to change.