The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Binge drinking still a problem

For years, health groups and university officials have used a variety of methods to warn students about the dangers of binge drinking. Unfortunately, that massive campaign has had little impact, according to the Harvard School of Public Health, which has studied college binge drinking in four studies taken over 10 years.

The 2001 study found that 44.4 percent – about two in five college students – engage in binge drinking, “a rate almost identical to rates in the previous three surveys.”

Experts say binge drinking remains a serious problem on college campuses, most notably fraternities and sororities. Fewer college students are drinking alcohol, according to a study done by the HSPH. However, those students that are drinking are doing it more intensely. This intense drinking is commonly known as “binge drinking.”

Binge drinking is defined as consuming five or more drinks in a single evening for males, and four or more drinks in a single evening for females. It is an indicator of problem drinking.

Experts say that during the 1990s, binge drinking became the No.1 public health problem affecting college students. Binge drinking is often accompanied by educational difficulties, depression, antisocial tendencies, injuries, overdoses, drunk driving and high-risk sexual situations. Almost one in three college students abuses alcohol, according to the Harvard University study.

Many SMU students said drinking can lead to problems.

“Many people I know, including myself, have made bad decisions because they have been drunk,” said a junior accounting major who asked to remain anonymous. “My friends and I always go out to get drunk. We drink to unwind and de-stress. Going out at night is a bad temptation though, because I know I am going to drink and I might not get anything done the next day.”

According to the HSPH study, the average binge drinker is of college age. Henry Wechsler, the head of the study, said those who “drink to get drunk” are commonly white, male, less than 23 years of age, have never been married, belong to a greek social organization and live in the greek house.

The experts point to fraternities and sororities as the main problem. Wechsler cited greek life as having the biggest impact on college drinking habits.

“Fraternity and sorority members, and especially students who live in the houses, continue to be at the center of the campus alcohol culture,” he said. “If colleges are to have any impact on their alcohol problems, they must drastically change this way of life.”

Results of interviews taken at SMU suggest that binge drinking is a large problem on campus. With fake drivers’ licenses circulating, students say that alcohol is easy to buy at the many beverage stores located near campus. Parties hosted off campus by fraternities and sororities often are thrown at bars where alcohol flows freely, and the “X” on an underage hand can be easily wiped off.

“I just turned 21, and going out to a bar or a party is no different for me now than when I was underage,” sophomore finance major Jeffrey Kleinops said. “Everyone that I know has a fake ID, and bars here usually don’t know the difference.”

For students at SMU, going out and drinking seems to be a prominent part of social life, whether they are over 21 or not.

“When I go out on the weekends, I usually have around seven drinks at the bar or party. But I also pre-party before with a few drinks,” the junior accounting major said. “After the bar I might have a few more.”

Several SMU students interviewed for this story said they were aware of the harsh penalties imposed by Texas and SMU on underage drinkers. They also were aware of the negative affects that alcohol can have on them physically and mentally.

“I know a lot of people who have DUI’s, MIP’s and everything else,” Kleinops said. “I was arrested last year for underage drinking.”

The federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration recently suggested certain steps to curb alcohol use. These strategies include decreasing the availability of alcohol to underage drinkers, raising alcohol taxes and prices, instituting responsible beverage service, changing the conditions of availability by limiting outlets and changing hours of service and days of sales.

For more information on binge drinking and other substance abuse, see SAMHSA’s webpage at

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