Survey finds low drinking stats amongst first-years

Amanda CavotoArts & Entertainment Editor

According to the 2017 CORE Campus survey of Alcohol and Other Drug Norms, 97 percent of first-year students at Southern disapprove of frequent intoxication.

The survey, which polled 1,095 first-year students in the 2017 fall semester, found overestimations in alcohol consumption and drug use can be attributed to students own social circles, said Wellness Center Coordinator Emily Rosenthal.

In addition, the survey focused on students own use and their own interpretation of their peers use.

“It’s your circle, it’s what you’re exposed to, it’s what you notice,” she said.

A goal to reduce highrisk drinking on campus, especially among firstyear students, began by collecting data of alcohol and drug use trends amongst these students during the fall 2017 semester.

The survey results stated 70 percent of first-year students did not binge drink; which means students do not have five or more drinks over a two week period.

However, while only 31.3 percent of first-year students did binge drink in the past two weeks, students overestimated that 47.96 percent of their peers engaged in binge drinking in that time frame as well.

With a three-year grant given by the Connecticut Healthy Campus Initiative, the survey’s data focused on social norms and how students overestimate their peer’s usage of drugs or alcohol, according to Rosenthal.

“It’s like when you’re driving on the highway and you pass 200 cars and you see one car speeding by and say ‘ugh, people are such bad drivers,’ but people really aren’t bad drivers it’s really just that one car that sticks out,” Rosenthal said.

The data was collected from over 80 percent of first-year students. While not all students believe the statistics presented to them, Rosenthal said that is normal, and that is why they conducted the survey.

“Students will see the data and say ‘well it’s different at Southern,’ and it’s actually not different,” Rosenthal said, “so there’s no excuse.”

Jayde Campbell, freshman and public health major, said she is not surprised people overestimated their peers usage of alcohol because of the peer pressure.

“There [are] so many kids on this campus, we want to conform and fit in and everything, once we see one person drinking, we think ‘oh I’m going to drink to’ to fit in,’” Campbell said.

Pre-conceived ideas of college through culture norms could stem from the misconceptions of how frequently Southern students actually drink, according to the Coordinator of Alcohol and Other Drug Services Sarah Keiser.

“There’s a perception that everyone is drinking all the time,” Keiser said, “part of that is culture and not knowing there [are] a lot of students that don’t drink.”

The data stated, one in four of Southern first year students never drink alcohol and one in three first-year students party without drinking alcohol.

Posters can be found across campus that highlight some of the results found in the survey. This includes the survey finding the majority of residential first-year students choose not to drink every weekend. One also showcased how half of first-year students drink less than six times a year.

On Thursday, Feb. 7 at 12:30-2:30 p.m. in the Engleman rotunda, The Wellness Center will host an event, “The Alcohol at Southern Kick-Off,” to show their newly developed research. Their hope is to help students learn more about their peers alcohol use and behaviors on campus as measured by their data.

There will be free t-shirts, prizes and giveaways, as well.

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