Drinking and college have always been two words that go hand-in-hand, but is this the case only in universities? It seems that way when the only college students being studied attend universities. But just because community colleges aren’t being studied does not mean this issue does not exist within them. The issue at hand is binge drinking. There is not one set definition of this that everyone agrees on, but it is known as a heavy episodic consumption of alcohol. Parents and college administrators are becoming increasingly concerned about the safety of students and the growing amount of deaths and injuries associated with this college-age fad.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) website, data from several national surveys indicate that “about four in five college students drink and that about half of college student drinkers engage in heavy episodic consumption.”
In 1999, Harvard University’s School of Public Health College Alcohol Survey surveyed 119 colleges and what they found is not that surprising to those who attend the keg parties, but may shock parents who are unsure of exactly what their teens are doing when heading off to school. The survey found that 44% of college students engaged in binge drinking during the two weeks prior to taking the survey. Students most likely to partake in binge drinking are white, aged 23 or younger, and are residents of a fraternity or sorority. And although students under 21 are prohibited by law to purchase or possess alcohol, the percentage of students who were binge drinkers was nearly uniform from freshman to senior year. Frequent binge drinkers (three or more times in a two-week period) were 21 times more likely than non-binge drinkers to have missed class, fallen behind in school work, engaged in unplanned sexual activity, engaged in unprotected sex, and/or driven a car after drinking.
According to “Healthy People 2010,” which sets U.S. public health goals through the year 2010, “The perception that alcohol use is socially acceptable correlates with the fact that more than 80 percent of American youth consume alcohol before their 21st birthday, whereas the lack of social acceptance of other drugs correlates with comparatively lower rates of use. Similarly, widespread societal expectations that young person’s will engage in binge drinking may encourage this highly dangerous form of alcohol consumption.”
This proves that the situation at hand is a cultural issue. It is an expectation of college students to drink, so they drink. After many failed attempts to resolve this reoccurring issue, the Task Force in College Drinking was created. This was brought together by experienced administrators and scientists. “Their recommendations focus not on how to effect some type of blanket prohibition of drinking, but on changing the culture of drinking on campuses and involving the surrounding communities.” Most important of their recommendations is in order to achieve a change in culture, schools must intervene at three levels: at the individual-student level, at the level of the entire student body, and at the community level. The programs also have to be tailored to the specific alcohol related issues of the school.
Hopefully with the help of prevention programs within the Task Force and the concerned parents of the students going away to college, students can become more aware of the idea that this is a cultural expectation that can be changed and does not have to be met the way others have done.

Leave a Reply