College students drink. Sometimes they drink a lot, and sometimes that excessive drinking leads to tragedy.
Last October, Washington State University freshman Kenny Hummel died of alcohol poisoning after consuming energy drinks mixed with liquor. His blood-alcohol content was five times higher than what is considered legal. Kenny became one of approximately 2,000 college students who die each year across the U.S. from alcohol poisoning or other alcohol-related injuries.
WSU is starting off the 2013 school year with a different attitude and a tougher approach to alcohol. A task force met over the summer and came up with new rules and regulations, and even a new educational approach to combating binge drinking on campus. They hope that the new, stricter rules will help save lives and make the WSU campus a safer place to live and learn.
Drinking in college is nothing new, but it is becoming more and more prevalent. Binge drinking is of particular concern because it is this type of excessive consumption that can lead to alcohol poisoning and death. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), binge drinking for a man means consuming five or more drinks in two hours, and four drinks for a woman. The CDC also reports that binge drinking is most prevalent among young adults between the ages of 18 and 34. Around 90 percent of the drinking that people aged 21 and younger do is binge drinking.
The Century Council reports that in 2011, 40 percent of college students reported getting drunk, and 36 percent reported binge drinking. Nearly two-thirds of college students reported having consumed alcohol in the last month. Their statistics also show that drinking levels, while high, are largely unchanged from a decade ago.
The leaders at WSU are not satisfied with the status quo, and with their new, tough rules they hope to decrease the amount of drinking in general — and binge drinking in particular — going on around campus.
University President Elson S. Floyd convened the 17-member task force that developed the new regulations. It included faculty and staff, representatives from the community and students. The task force discussed and analyzed statistics and data about drinking on campus and came up with the following changes for the new school year:
In addition to the changes already set in motion, a couple of others are under consideration. One is to eliminate housing of freshmen in fraternity houses. Freshman students are most vulnerable to alcohol poisoning, and hazing may be a key factor in some instances. Another measure awaiting approval is increasing the amount of class periods held on Friday mornings. This move, it is hoped, would curtail three-day weekend drinking binges. Studies conducted at other universities found that increasing Friday morning classes significantly reduced Thursday-night binges.
There is absolutely no reason for college students to be dying in the name of a good time. By changing rules, the leaders at WSU hope to prevent those unnecessary deaths, but also to change the culture.