Campus Life Includes a Steady Flow of Festive Suds
Weigert says he still drinks -- but not too much. "I think drinking is
fun. And I like to go out and have a beer with my friends after class."
Ed McGlothlin, a junior at Florida State University -- recognized by some as
the "top" party school in the country -- suggested the alcohol agenda
is being set, in part, by forces off-campus -- such as local bars, which
frequently offer drink promotions. "For some reason I haven't figured out,
Thursday nights and Tuesday nights have become party nights," he said.
In fact, college alcohol promotions are coming from some strange places
these days, such as the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). The
animal rights group recently began a campaign urging students to switch their
milk for beer. The "Got Beer?" parody got the attention of Mothers
Against Drunk Driving (MADD), which is urging PETA to can it.
"I spoke with the head of the campaign and asked if they ever thought
about the ramifications of underage drinking," Millie Webb, MADD's national
president, tells WebMD. "We already have over 4 million people younger than
21 considered binge drinkers. It's totally alarming. That's why this PETA
campaign bothered us so."
If there is any silver lining to the Harvard report it is this: Non-drinkers
have increased on campus, too, from 15% of those questioned to 19%. And
Weschler says that while he hasn't studied the long-term fate of college binge
drinkers, it is very likely they are going through a phase -- albeit one that
can have deadly consequences.
- After polling 14,000 college students about their alcohol consumption,
Harvard researchers found nearly half the respondents were binge drinkers.
- The researchers report that campus drinking habits have not changed much
since a similar study was done in 1997: Nearly a quarter of the polled students
still are heavy bingers and may be in denial of their habit. About one in five
students in the survey does not drink, representing a gain of few percentage
points since the last study.
- Eight in 10 of those sampled who lived in fraternity and sorority groups
were binge drinkers, and half of them fell into the "worst drinker"
group. Members of the heaviest drinker group were seven times more likely to
miss class, five times more likely to black out and 10 times more likely to