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Beer bongs, keg stands, and a million new drinks to discover, these are what college is all about. First-year students are introduced to a whole new world of parties that last until 3 a.m. and drinking beer for the usual breakfast. The week consists of concentrating on school for about 4 days of the week and partying 3 days. The money that was supposed to go towards books and gas to get home has been hoarded for the latest beer run or was used to get into the bar.
This trend is getting into the habit of drinking as you enter college; it seems the two go hand in hand. It has become a rite of passage that weaved its way into the introduction of university life (National Institute, October 2002). Those students who never drank in high school seem to think drinking is suddenly okay when they start studying for their bachelor’s degree. This addition of responsibility is then balanced by the act of partying. It seems completely absurd that students choose to drink while investing around $20,000 a year in school.
It all starts at high school graduation. Drinking is suddenly endorsed, or protested less, by parents, coaches, adults, organizations, and businesses. When seniors in high school finally graduate, it is common for a party to be thrown in their honor. Some of these parties include alcohol, and we can be pretty sure it wasn’t bought by the graduate unless they flunked a few times and are of legal age. Parents, other adults, and older friends supply the liquor and beer for the underage partiers.
When the graduates make the next major step in their life and head for college, they are confronted with many opportunities to get hammered, sloshed, annihilated, drunk, inebriated, intoxicated, wasted, and totally smashed. Other college students are eager to help their young, new friends out by taking them for a trip to the liquor store. Since some bars are legal to those over the age of eighteen, it’s not a problem getting served there either. The 21 year-olds are conveniently stamped for minors looking to spot a potential buyer.
Since a minor isn’t worried about getting served, the most apparent problem is getting to the bar. One setting of this national trend can be studied locally.
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Advertisements for drinking are all over residence halls. The choice of wallpaper in many dorm rooms consists of beer boxes and fluorescent Budweiser lights. Beer and liquor bottles are a usual decoration in most dorms; they’re used as vases, piggy banks, candle holders, and candy dishes. Each time you walk by a dorm room, you see these things like a giant billboard in Times Square.
For a student athlete, a game-winning shot could get him/her a free spirit at the local bar. Fans, bar owners, coaches, athletic directors, teammates, and parents have all been seen rewarding the athletes with toasts and celebration shots. These same toasts are given to college students on their birthdays, no matter how old they are.
Fraternities and sororities also bring a drinking factor to colleges. They are known more commonly for their parties and ability to drink, than their community service and GPAs. Even though we don’t have them on our campus, they are apparent at the majority of colleges and universities across America. The frats are known for their very popular gatherings where binge drinking is rewarded, and hardly anyone is sober. Sororities are known to attend these parties and join in the festivities.
Another factor that proves that college and drinking go hand in hand is the abrupt end of this behavior for most after college graduation. Most students buckle down for graduate school or the beginning of their career. This excessive drinking pattern does not continue.
The tragedies occur when the drinking becomes out of hand. Some drinkers get into a habit of binge drinking. This has been defined as “drinking to get drunk” (Center for Science, March 2000). Binge drinking leads to passing out, blacking out, memory loss, and injury due to loss of mobility. Unusual and outrageous behavior can get you removed from your university. Even if a student doesn’t normally act in mischievous ways, this behavior cannot be excused because of the influence of alcohol. Getting in trouble with the law goes on your public record. Around 11 percent of college student drinkers say they have damaged someone’s property while drinking, and 5 percent of a college campus will be involved with the police or campus security due to drinking (A Snapshot of Annual High-Risk College Drinking Consequences, 2002). Other alcohol related charges include public intoxication, minor in possession, driving under the influence, operating while intoxicated, indecent exposure, resisting arrest, interference with official duties, assaulting an officer, and disorderly conduct.
Our culture has come to encourage the drinking pattern through the places and people that surround the students (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, October 2002). The responsibility lies in the hands of parents, teachers, and college campuses worldwide. However, in the end it is up to the student. That is why if authority figures teach kids what alcohol can do to them, there is less of a chance they will subject themselves to this habit. Drinking is a choice. No matter how strong the trend, it can be broken.
Center for Science in the Public Interest. (2000, March). Fact sheet: Binge drinking on college campuses. Retrieved March 17, 2004, from the World Wide Web: http://www.cspinet. org/booze/collfact1.htm.
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2002, October). Alcohol Alert, 58. Retrieved March 17, 2004, from the World Wide Web: http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/ publications/aa58.htm.
A Snapshot of Annual High-Risk College Drinking Consequences. (2002). Retrieved May 11, 2004, from the World Wide Web: http://www.collegedrinkingprevention.gov/facts /snapshot.aspx.