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NWANONYIRI: Binge drinking danger lurks on college campuses

College campuses make it easy to get caught up in the drinking environment. – Photo by Julia Nastogadka /

With the pressures of societal norms and college traditions, many students have fallen prey to the dangers of binge drinking. A typical Friday or Saturday night on campus may include parties or other gatherings where friends encourage each other to drink.

Yet the presence of alcohol is not entirely the problem. The lack of responsible drinking habits and excessive peer pressure are.

Young adults are subjected to drinking heavy amounts to get some sort of praise and approval from those around them. But, in reality, the victim ends up paying the price.

Peer pressure is caused by wanting to fit in. It is common for young adults to want to be liked by their peers, or else they might worry that they will be left out or made fun of. As a result, students attempt to drink beyond their limits to fit in.

Binge drinking has become an activity that is severely normalized on college campuses. On any given occasion, it consists of drinking five or more drinks for men or four or more for women. Binge drinking is most common in individuals ages 18 to 34 with 1 in 6 U.S. adults doing so, 25 percent of whom binge drink at least weekly.

Approximately 49 percent of full-time college students aged between 18 and 22 have drunk alcohol with 28.9 percent having binged their drinking in the past month, according to the 2022 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

Specifically, 1 in 4 U.S. adults during a binge drinking session consume at least eight drinks. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Health Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture consider drinking in moderation as two drinks or less in a day for men and one drink or less in a day for women. This is an overwhelming difference between the healthy consumption rate and the average amount students are consuming.

Schools across the nation have had their conflicts with students binge drinking when it comes to hazing rituals. Hazing is often identified as an initiation process that involves humiliating, demeaning or risking the safety of an individual seeking to join a group. Some tasks may differ from physical and verbal abuse to engaging in sexual acts, but most commonly it involves a student having to consume a fatally large amount of alcohol.

The act is also frequently associated with fraternity and sorority organizations. According to a 2018 survey, 38.3 percent of respondents reported having experienced hazing in association with fraternity culture. At the same time, 69.8 percent of students claimed they were aware of hazing on campus.

Kelly Nolan, a first-year School of Environmental and Biological Sciences student and member of the Delta Gamma sorority at Rutgers, spoke out about this issue.

"We have a whole anti-hazing policy because we want to help build that sense of community and (make) sure that everyone feels welcome and they don't feel pressured," Nolan said.

Her knowledge of the activity has made her "very cautious" and constantly "paying attention" to ensure it does not impact her college experience.

This is not the case for other fraternity and sorority life organizations across the country, which have failed to abide by their policies, resulting in fatal outcomes for students. Binge drinking has unfortunately ended the lives of many young adults in the U.S.

In 2021, Stone Foltz, a Bowling Green State University student, died from alcohol intoxication allegedly due to hazing at the Pi Kappa Alpha International Fraternity's Delta Beta Chapter. He was only 20 years old. Two fraternity members served a 42-day sentence in jail, followed by 28 days of house arrest and two years of probation.

Another incident occurred in 2021 when a 19-year-old student, Adam Oakes, became a victim of binge drinking and hazing at Virginia Commonwealth University. He died of alcohol poisoning after being told to drink a whole bottle of Jack Daniel's whiskey at the Delta Chi fraternity house.

Enforcing stricter policies and punishments for binge drinking and hazing rituals can be an effective preventative measure in ensuring the safety of young adults, especially on campus.

As students, joining groups and organizations should remain a fun and harmless decision in order to promote a safe environment on campus where everyone can feel welcomed as Nolan mentioned.

"Be careful … especially when you're at a party … make sure you're just paying attention with how much (alcohol) you consume because you don't want to end up regretting something," she said.

Uju Nwanonyiri is a sophomore in the School of Arts and Sciences majoring in journalism and media studies and public health. Nwanonyiri’s column, “Debrief Discussions” runs on alternate Wednesdays.

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