Recently a student at the University of Connecticut drew attention to college students’ behavior regarding alcohol abuse. The intoxicated student argued with a dining services employee regarding macaroni and cheese. Police arrested the student.
Many of our university and college communities in Connecticut have Town and Gown Committees. These committees engage in activities designed to improve relationships between community members and members of the colleges and universities.
One of the issues addressed by Town and Gown committees relates to the abuse of alcohol by students. Many committees focus on ways to reduce problems associated with alcohol abuse. One important activity that might be beneficial in this effort is to clarify community members’ and students’ misperceptions regarding students’ consumption of alcohol.
Community members, before you continue to read this op-ed, please consider how many drinks containing alcohol you think the typical female college student and the typical male college student consume per week.
Some of you may be surprised to learn the results of a 2015 study regarding college students’ consumption of alcohol. The study examined a random sample of 496 students at a mid-sized university in Connecticut. The purpose was to determine students’ alcohol consumption per week and their perceptions vis-à-vis their peers’ alcohol consumption per week.
Overall, students reported drinking 3.57 drinks per week.
Today, one of the most cited sources for information related to college drinking is the Alcohol and other Drug Survey (AOD) developed by the Core Institute at Southern Illinois University Carbondale According to recently collected information by the Core Institute based on 168,499 surveys the national average is 4.6 drinks per week.
Male students reported drinking 4.09 drinks per week and female students reported drinking 2.89 drinks per week.
Students misperceived that their male peers drank 6.89 drinks per week and that their female peers consumed 4.48 drinks per week. (One hundred and forty students were abstainers. These students were not included in the calculations.)
Clarifying these misperceptions is important because students may drink more to fit in. They already do fit in, but they do not realize it.
Some of you may realize that you do have misperceptions regarding college students’ alcohol consumption if your numbers regarding college students’ consumption per week were higher than the actual numbers. Sharing this information with your circle of friends and acquaintances can help to clarify these misconceptions in our communities.
This discussion between Town and Gown committee members throughout the state will help disseminate this information and clarify community members’ misperceptions. This may buttress the efforts by alcohol prevention specialists engaged in clarifying students’ misperceptions on our campuses.
C. Kevin Synnott is on the faculty at Eastern Connecticut State University.