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Stomping the Yard

Drunk in Love? College Drinking on the Rise

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Calling all college students!  Our new weekly column, Stomping the Yard, aims to help undergrads excel in their studies and social lives.  JETmag.com’s team of experts will show you how to get it done from the day you move into the dorms to the minute you step off campus for that first job. Submit questions and feedback for The Yard via talkback@jetmag.com.

“I’ve been drinking, I’ve been drinking…”

This lyric from Beyonce’s “Drunk in Love” has become something of a mantra amongst college students, particularly female ones.  Women are advised to consume less alcohol than their male counterparts because physiological differences cause a woman to become impaired much more quickly than a man. However, according to U.S. News and World Report, roughly 64 percent of college women exceed the recommended guidelines for weekly alcohol consumption.

The college climate can create the perfect storm for developing drinking habits. Students who go away to college, especially for the first time, push the boundaries of their freedom away from the watchful eyes of parents and guardians. Furthermore, college friendships aren’t limited by class year. In other words, an 18-year-old freshman can easily become BFF with a 21-year-old junior. Underage students can have ready access to alcohol through friends, social events, and romantic partnerships.

This is no new fad, though. College drinking is nothing new. At some campuses, it’s a rite of passage. However, educating students on the dangers of intoxication, particularly college females, seems to be falling on deaf ears.  A 2009 study in the Journal of American College health reported that 20 percent of female seniors had been victims of sexual assault. In 80 percent of the cases, alcohol was a major factor. Yet, most incidents went unreported.  Often men will use alcohol to justify their behavior, while women experience guilt and shame for becoming intoxicated.

“We woke up in the kitchen saying, how the hell did this ___________ happen?”

Another factor that has increased alcohol consumption is its association with social status and popularity. Brands like Ciroc, endorsed by Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, or Skinny Girl cocktails from Real Housewife Bethenny Frankel, have made drinking almost as cool as having an iPhone.  A quick scroll through the Instagram feeds of college students will reveal drinks in one hand, friends in the other. The hashtag #Ciroc has more than 1.2 million posts on Instagram.  And #DrunkinLove has nearly half a million posts.

The alcoholic beverage industry has a lot to do with why college kids love drinking. It rakes in a whopping $400 billion in revenue. It’s one of the biggest drivers of the U. S. economy — and one of the reasons efforts to ban alcohol have been largely unsuccessful. College is one of the many places that students start learning to make adult decisions. Making sure that they understand the risks, the consequences, and their own limitations is one of the best ways to prepare and protect them from the dangers of over-consumption.

Early education is the key. Last year, two high school football stars from Steubenville, Ohio were convicted of rape charges after an underage drinking party led to the assault of a female victim. The teens’ over-consumption of alcohol played a major role in the conviction of the case. Trent Mays, 17, and Ma’lik Richmond, 16, were sentenced to juvenile confinement and must register as sex offenders. It was a horrific cocktail of teenagers, alcohol, Twitter, and YouTube.

Treny Mays & Ma'lik Richmond, Photo Courtesy of ABC

Trent Mays & Ma’lik Richmond, Photo Courtesy of ABC

High profile cases such as these also plague college campuses and are completely preventable. Integrity-based decision making amongst male and female students can be the difference between a promising future and a criminal conviction.

About Dr. Shante Bishop

Shante-Bishop

Getting TO college is one thing; Getting THROUGH college is quite another. That’s why Dr. Shante’ Bishop offers strategic advice on being successful both in and out of the classroom. From catalogs to cap and gown, Professor Bishop shares what it takes to ‘Stomp the Yard” with confidence and clarity! You can follow Dr. Bishop on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.