Fact or faction: Number four party school

Fact+or+faction%3A+Number+four+party+school

Allegra Gold, Contributing Writer

The drinking culture among adolescents and young adults, particularly on college campuses, has taken on almost an entirely new meaning within the last few generations. Binge drinking has become the new norm, and the implications are becoming more and more serious in terms of what college students refer to as the“work hard, play hard” model. The University has attracted attention in recent years for this reputation. In 2015, the University was ranked fifth on the Princeton Review’s top 10 party schools in America. And earlier this September, the University’s rank moved to fourth.

Additionally, a recent New York Times article titled “Drinking to Blackout,” sheds light on the issues of college binge drinking, and how alcohol on campuses has worked its way from a mere social enhancer to a purposeful means of recklessness. The article mentions the fact that although binge drinking has dominated the majority of colleges nationwide, small and remote college campuses in particular have taken the brunt of the hit.

This description rings true with our own University. Our campus in the heart of Lewisburg is well known for its competitive school spirit, top notch academics, and of course, the social scene. Small town rural culture has made campus the heart of the action, and in turn, the heart of the party scene. Our remote location brings the night life right to campus, which ultimately creates conflicts in terms of overconsumption, and the administration’s role in intervening when things go too far.

Causes

One general understanding of binge drinking is the ever-present stress that a competitive, top tier liberal arts school like the University provides. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 80 percent of college students report frequently experiencing daily stress and 34 percent have felt depressed within the last three months. The competitive nature of college and the pressures to do well within the four years here resonate in one way or another with every student on campus.

“Bucknell is so difficult academically, and I think students find themselves working so hard throughout the week that by the time the weekend comes around, they are overly-eager and excited to drink and finally let loose,” Callie Danforth ’19 said. 

As academic competition has increased over the years, so too has the need to relieve stress. Unfortunately, drinking is the stress reliever of choice for a large majority of the student body, as well as college campuses in general.  

Pics or it didn’t happen

One major component of contemporary college life that is seen frequently at the University is maintaining a prominent social media presence. The appearance of constantly living a fun-filled, party lifestyle has become the goal of many high school and college students. Academic pressure is not the only thing influencing the binge drinking movement. Students admit that the pressure to keep up a perfect image on social media, particularly Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook, has become overwhelming.

“Social media definitely has a presence in binge drinking—everywhere you look there are photos of celebrities out clubbing, random girls at random schools drinking huge margaritas—and because they’re doing it, we assume we should too,” another sophomore at the University said.

Social media has taken on a whole new meaning, and the pictures to prove it have become a necessity for any “successful” night out.

The evolution of the drinking scene

So the question is, has it always been this way? In fact, binge drinking has not always been this prominent and dangerous on campus. A few Bison alumni that attended the University in the 1980s offered their input on the matter. While the University has always been a social place, the binge and blackout culture was not always around.

“Fraternities had open parties most weekend nights, like today, and my friends and I would go from house to house. That hasn’t changed. Most of the time they just served beer in the bar room. I guess that is one big difference from today. We mainly drank beer, and only occasionally had hard alcohol,” one alumnus who graduated in ’88 said. 

Another alum, also class of ’88 said, “Most weekends were mostly beer and it is more difficult to “binge” with beer because you get full before you experience alcohol poisoning. I do think that students hear stories about “crazy and fun times” and because alcohol was involved, they try and make their party “crazier” than what they heard. It’s almost like there is a competition as to who can get the drunkest.”

Solutions

Chief Communications Officer Andy Hirsch stresses the importance of providing students with alcohol-free social outlets and resources. Hirsch described how the University efforts include “alcohol-free social offerings and wellness programs, new investments in our behavioral health center, the University’s amnesty policy, Bucknell Student Government’s One Too Many program, communications efforts reaching students and parents alike, and a Student Code of Conduct that was revised to remove purely punitive sanctions in favor of approaches that research shows meaningfully change behavior.”

Sobering Statistics

Welcome Weekend, a night of celebration to kick-off the new additions to the Greek community, is one of the more prevalent examples of the campus binge drinking culture. Last year, with historically high transportations due to alcoholism, BSG responded with the One Too Many event. The program highlighted the potential loss of life the University could have faced as a result of each and every one of these alcohol-related transports. In 2016, Welcome Weekend was enforced with more stringent alcohol policies and mandatory sober monitors from each Greek organization.

The statistics below were provided by Hirsch.

Sept. 3-4, 2016 there were five students transported from campus by ambulance due to alcohol-related issues.

Sept. 4-5 2015, there were 10 students transported from campus by ambulance to alcohol-related issues.

19 students have been transported from campus by ambulance to the hospital for alcohol-related issues since the beginning of the 2016 academic year.

34 students were transported from campus by ambulance to the hospital in the same academic period in 2015.

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