The unofficial college culture: Alcohol considered ‘rite of passage’

By on March 6, 2013

Just as academic integrity is a constant at most universities across America, so is the consumption of alcohol among the student body.

At Quinnipiac University and other academic institutions across America, the excessive use of alcohol has became a key ingredient throughout residence halls and dormitories alike.

“Our students do tend to come [into college] at a higher drinking rate nationally than other students,” Director of Student Conduct Megan Buda said. “While they do come in at higher drinking rates, rates are not increasing like the national average does though.”

At Quinnipiac the use of alcohol on campus has been a constant for many years, according to Associate Vice President of Student Affairs Carol Boucher.

“It’s part of the culture. Some people think it is a rite of passage,” Boucher said. “Some people do it because they think it will lower their inhibitions; people will like them more. Some people do it because their friends are doing it.”

According to a national study done by Alcohol 101 Plus, 84 percent of students report that they have consumed alcohol within a year of taking the survey, and 72 percent of students surveyed report that they had consumed alcohol within 30 days of taking the survey.

The research showed a higher rate of alcohol usage by athletes, as well as students belonging to Greek life.

“I think for 18-year-olds it’s a rite of passage,” Boucher said. “Maybe they don’t know how to handle their freedom.”

The use of alcohol at Quinnipiac is also the root of many of the problems that the Department of Public Safety has to enforce. Most disciplinary related issues that involve Public Safety normally have an alcohol aspect to them, Chief of Public Safety David Barger said.

“Most of the issues that we deal with, whether it be vandalism, assaults or whatever, there is always an alcoholic component,” Barger said. “When we get a door or window punched out, usually alcohol plays a part in it.”

However, Public Safety does not go out looking to find alcohol, Barger said.

“We get involved in alcohol when alcohol becomes a problem. We are not the beer police,” Barger said.

Barger has also realized a trend in what days of the week Public Safety is more actively involved in dealing with issues across campus. Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays are fairly quiet, and then Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays consist of a major increase in crime, Barger said.

Aside from committing acts of vandalism across campus, students are taken off of campus in an ambulance to be treated for alcohol poisoning at a frequency that is unacceptable, Barger said.

“We don’t want our reputation to be that we are the place that they pick up the kids to be taken care of for alcohol poisoning,” Barger said.

With many students choosing to consume alcohol at Quinnipiac, Buda has been working to help raise awareness about alcohol consumption. It is something she believes has not been stressed enough to students.

“I don’t think we have had enough [alcohol awareness programs] in the past and we are really trying to raise awareness because we do have students who come in at higher drinking rates,” Buda said.

Among the efforts to raise awareness is the use of data gathered from the freshman online course “Alcohol Edu,” which creates programs geared toward freshman students as well as Greek life.

With new efforts in place to raise awareness about alcohol, some still find the use of alcohol at Quinnipiac worrisome.

As a long-time employee, Boucher has seen the use of alcohol by students change over the course of her career.

“It’s different now. Now it’s more than a rite of passage. It’s something I think a lot of kids feel they need to do, and it’s scary,” Boucher said. “I worry about it.”

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