Archive for Sunday, December 4, 1994


December 4, 1994


The stereotype of beer-guzzling, drunken college students no longer is exclusively male.

According to a report by the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, more than one-third of college women reported drinking for the sole purpose of getting drunk in 1993, more than triple the 10 percent in 1977.

Aimee Reeder, a Kansas University sophomore from Carmel, Calif., said that she and her friends go out two or three times a week, usually on the weekends.

"Women are drinking more probably because we are more liberated," Reeder said. "Before it seemed that drinking was more date-oriented."

The nine-page report, "Rethinking Rites of Passage: Alcohol Abuse on America's Campuses," was issued in June 1994 and cited statistics from a federal student survey and other studies that indicated:

  • The rates of heavy drinking among college women are double those of their non-college peers.
  • Women become addicted sooner, and develop alcohol-related problems and die younger, than men with similar drinking patterns.
  • Ninety percent of all reported campus rapes occur when alcohol is being used by either the assailant, the victim, or both.
  • Sixty percent of college women who have acquired sexually transmitted diseases were under the influence of alcohol at the time they had intercourse.

Barbara Ballard, associate dean of Student Life and director of Emily Taylor Resource Center, said women have started to drink more because people are doing so much in group activities, instead of one-on-one, and that alcohol is the center of attraction.

"If you are a woman with this big group, what are you going to do, ask for a Coke?" Ballard said.

"There is less of a stigma attached to drinking and girls may be saying, 'If guys are drinking, we can too.' "

Other findings from the national report included:

  • White males drink far more than any other group, averaging more than nine drinks per week, and more than twice the rate of their white female counterparts. By comparison, African-American males consume 3.6 per drinks week and African-American females average only one drink per week.
  • Students living in fraternities and sororities report drinking an average of 15 drinks per week, compared to about five drinks per week by other students.
  • Each year, students spend $5.5 billion on alcohol -- more than they spend on soft drinks, tea, milk, juice, coffee or books combined.

The report was a compilation of findings based on interviews, focus groups, hearings, and reviews of data and available literature from colleges and universities throughout the country.

"The evidence is overwhelming that binge drinking is the No. 1 substance abuse problem in American college life," the report stated. "What was once regarded as a harmless 'rite of passage' has in the 1990s reached epidemic proportions."

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