Binge drinking, a sickness commonly associated with college students, has been on a steady decline in recent years.
Traits associated with binge drinking include a person giving up responsibilities and everyday activities in favor of getting repeatedly intoxicated within an extended period of time.
A 2002 survey conducted by the Temple’s Campus Alcohol and Substance Awareness program indicates only 27 percent of Temple students engage in binge drinking.
J.J. Larson, former CASA coordinator, claims the number reflects a national trend.
Nationwide surveys have generally found that about 20 percent of students engage in high risk drinking compared to the 60 percent of students who engage in low risk drinking. Nearly 20 percent of students do not drink at all.
The media has perpetuated the idea that college should be a four-year party. Movies like Animal House depict unruly college students obsessed with toga parties and beer chugging.
Michael McNeil, coordinator of Health Education at Student Health Services, believes the stories that circulate among students contribute to the idea that college is a non-stop party.
“If you think about a party you attended, did you go home and talk about the people that had consumed alcohol responsibly or did you talk about the people who were intoxicated and exhibiting unusual behaviors?” said McNeil.
McNeil claims there are more students who drink responsibly or abstain from alcohol than those students who drink excessively.
However, students who hang around with heavy drinkers are more likely to believe that all students drink to excess.
“We tend to gravitate towards those with similar interests,” explained Larson. “If your interest is getting drunk, then that will skew your perception of what is actually happening.”
One Temple student was quick to defend binge drinking. “It is a part of the college experience,” he said.
However, that perception was altered through the eyes of senior Erin Mattson. She chooses to abstain from drinkingalcohol.
“A lot of people drink, but they don’t drink to the point where it becomes problematic,” Mattson said.
Binge drinking is common for first-year students. As freshmen get used to new freedoms, they are more likely to experiment with alcohol. The availability of unlimited amounts of alcohol for a small fee acts as further enticement.
However, as time progress, students learn that drinking is not the center of college life.
To combat the “party” college image, Temple is starting a Web site entitled WISER. It intends to familiarize students with social norms on campus.
The Web site, scheduled to appear late this semester, will contain statistics, self-assessments, access to support groups and information about the risks associated with drug and alcohol use.
It will also offer a list of alternative activities for students who wish to avoid potentially destructive behavior.
WISER can be found at https://www.temple.edu/wiser.
Daniel Kristie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org