College is for Learning, Not Binge Drinking

In college, a hierarchy exists that puts first-year students at the bottom of a methodical food chain. Freshmen, often too eager to enter their first college semester, anticipate the freedom away from their parents. In many cases, in an attempt to assimilate into a new culture and keep from being ostracized by their peers, freshmen engage in behaviors that lead to underage drinking in social situations. 

Michael Cleveland, a researcher at Penn State’s Prevention Research Center and Methodology Center, told the Orlando Sentinel that college freshmen are at the greatest risk of alcohol-related harm within the first few weeks in school.

This is primarily the case because many students enter school with a preconceived idea that the college experience revolves around the consumption of alcohol. This impression is dangerous and can determine how much a college freshman is willing to drink to fit in.

The social expectations and pressures for college students, particularly freshmen, have shifted from the classroom to campus parties. Parties are where college freshmen are encouraged to drink to the point of intoxication, also known as binge drinking.

It is widely considered that binge drinking means consuming five drinks in a row for men and four drinks in a row for women. Binge drinking can have severe, long-term consequences for students that put their health in jeopardy.

Carolyn Hsu, chair of sociology and anthropology at Colgate University, led a study that found that “binge drinking may also be a prerequisite for receiving the full benefits of high status group membership.” So what does this mean?

College freshmen are most vulnerable to falling victim to social drinking that can later transition into binge drinking.

Binge drinking is a form of achieving social acceptance that is desperately desired by students who enter a new environment. Both male and female students participate in such behavior to make friends, fit in, feel relaxed in social settings, and ultimately, to comply with the social expectations of a college student. Who is to blame for this?

The media has done a terrible job at portraying the college experience as anything but a social experience. Movies and television focus college-based media on the parties, the alcohol and the binge drinking that often occur on college campuses. As a society, we should shift our focus to what really matters in college: the education.