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Exposed: Students Share Opinions On Binge Drinking at CWRU

I surveyed CWRU students of various age, gender, and background to discuss the issue of binge drinking in college, specifically on our campus. These anonymous students revealed honest thoughts on alcohol use and got real about the possible dangers and solutions to such a prevalent societal issue. 14 out of 15 of the random interviewees agreed that the average CWRU student is exposed to or guilty of binge drinking at some point in their undergraduate careers. When asked how many times a week they “went out”, the average was one. Here is what they had to say about other questions regarding binge drinking and CWRU:

HC: Name three words that come to mind when you hear the term “binge drinking?”

“Party, pride, anxieties”-Sophomore

“Excess, denial, freedom”-Junior

“Depressed, puking, empty-bottles”-Junior

“Danger, irresponsibility, party”-Freshman

“Wild, self-conscious, attention”-Senior

HC: How many drinks do you consider binging?

“7 or more”-Senior

“More than one drink in a half hour is binge drinking”-Freshman

“I would say it depends on tolerance level, but probably more than 8 drinks.”-Junior

“Like 20 in a night.”-Sophomore

According to NIAAA, the definition of binge drinking is usually around “4 drinks for women, and 5 drinks from men in about 2 hours.” Out of the four random participants used in this question, three of them over-estimated the level of alcohol that should be consumed before it is considered binging. Is this a matter of misunderstanding the definition of binge drinking, or, are their other reasons behind the high number of drinks thought of as acceptable?

HC: Why do you binge drink?

“Because it makes dumb things funny and boring situations more interesting”-Junior

“To get really drunk.”-Senior

“I convince myself it will be a good time.”-Freshman

“I drink to have fun, let loose, and as an opportunity to be social with friends. But sometimes, the pressure I feel in school and with relationships influences me to want to drink more.”-Senior

HC: What is your opinion on the phrase, “work hard, play hard?”

“I think that it’s a vicious cycle that you can’t maintain throughout the whole year. If you push yourself academically and then on the weekend you push yourself by binge drinking, eventually you will burn out. I think a better motto would be the “work-life balance” not having such opposite extremes.”-Junior

“F*** yeah.”-Sophomore

“I think that the comment applies not only to students but also to adults. I think that how it is manifested is very different. Maybe drinking is a consequence more because of a lack of outlets for college students; adults are able to take vacations where they can satisfy this motto and be rewarded, whereas college students don’t have that option and might find that the easiest and most convenient release of stress is through alcohol consumption. That’s the reason the “work hard, play hard” mentality is most closely related to binge drinking.”-Junior

“Its definitely a CWRU thing. It applies here a lot and the people who binge drink obviously aren’t screw-ups -- they work hard, but it happens. I think there is a time and a place.”-Senior

HC: What do you think of the phrase “It’s okay,  I’m in college?”

“I think this is a copout; you can party when you’re out of college and you can be an alcoholic when you’re in college.”-Junior

“I feel like college isn’t an excuse for doing things that otherwise would be wrong. I don’t think being in college should ever be an excuse for making bad decisions.” -Senior

“I think this is part of the culture and the belief system we have that enables us to overlook underlying reasons to why we might be drinking excessively.” –Sophomore

“I agree with this statement sometimes. Obviously there are times that I want to let loose and feel the need to follow that motto.”-Freshman

For many people, college can be the first time alcohol is introduced. Let’s be real, for most students it is the first long period of time you’re away from your parents and there isn’t anyone around to influence decisions-whether that pertains to studying, sleeping, or drinking. Many times in our society, “college” is perceived as the time to be young, make mistakes, and have fun. But is this outlook and cultural idea rationalizing excessive alcohol use?

HC: Do you feel like CWRU puts pressure on students to the point where they react by drinking more?

“I don’t think so. People here drink when they want to have fun, they don’t drink to forget.” –Freshman

“I agree that some people feel pressured by CWRU’s academics to the point where they think excessive consumption of alcohol is necessary for their sanity, however; I don’t think it’s the case for everyone.”-Senior

“I don’t think its fair to say an institution itself pressures anyone. Everything you feel and do it up to you. For example, two people could have the same major, friends, study habits, and grades yet, one could end up drinking a lot more than the other. I also feel like there are a lot less students drinking here in general because it is difficult to attend an academically rigorous school such as CWRU and be drinking all of the time.”-Junior

“Yes, I think at any college, there will always people who can’t handle the stress and will use alcohol as an escape. I don’t think it’s necessarily anything that CWRU does purposely, but just the stress from classes can sometimes lead to excessive alcohol consumption.” –Sophomore

HC: Have you ever seen a situation at CWRU where you have genuinely been concerned about a friend’s safety or life because of excessive alcohol consumption?

“Yes, I have seen people get belligerent and even run away. It is difficult to deal with these situations and can be extremely scary.”-Junior

“I’ve seen people do stupid things because of alcohol, but I have never been genuinely concerned about someone’s life and well being.”-Senior

“Yes, I have seen students leave other students on their backs or in a compromised position in a state in which they can’t protect themselves. Ranging from being hit on to aspirating, I don’t think students here think about all of the consequences that can result from drinking.”-Senior

“No I have never seen this.”-Sophomore

HC: Why do you think people are so apt to cross the line between being social with alcohol and binge drinking?

“Culture. We have an emphasis on drinking excessively in college; it’s always about pushing your limits and people also have deep rooted problems that they don’t want to deal with sometimes and tend to go overboard.”-Junior

“Once you start drinking it’s hard to stop yourself or realize when you have taken it too far.”-Freshman

“The social aspect can definitely lead to binge drinking because of peer pressure, excitement, getting caught up in the moment, and sometimes its not necessarily a conscious choice, more so a peer pressure situation that can get out of hand.”-Senior

HC: Do you think there is an effective way to minimize college binge drinking?

“If there were other ways to combat stress that students would reliably use, I think it would help with the problem. But I don’t think there has really been an option provided that people would actually use thus far on any college campus, not just here at CWRU.”-Senior

“I feel like the party scene here is very underground and it’s hard to hear about things. If drinking were more accepted, we wouldn’t save it for when we get to a certain place.”-Junior

“Not really, I think that people who want to drink are going to drink no matter what rules you put in place or what college you attend.”-Sophomore

“Yeah, I think that education on this topic would give insight on how to better handle alcohol consumption. Instead of just pretending it doesn’t happen, it would be wise for a better system of education on the topic.”-Freshman

Despite the anonymous participant’s age, background, and gender, these are honest, eye-opening opinions about the current culture of college. Something to think about-Is it CWRU or across the nation collegiately? Is it a cultural issue that has been ingrained and justified because, as a society, we deem this as acceptable behavior? Is “just college” the solution to the question of binge drinking, or are there safer measures that can be taken for a healthier college experience?