Study tells us what we already know

Women are more likely to be the victims of sexual assault the more they drink.

The Minnesota Daily published an article this week about a study linking women’s alcohol use to their likelihood of being sexually assaulted. Released by the Research Institute on Addictions at the University at Buffalo, the study proves what every incoming first-year university student is told 50 times before starting classes: Excessive drinking can put women in compromising situations.

First-year students are given much alcohol-related information during their summer orientation sessions – much of it in the form of “humorous” skits performed by student leaders and residence hall community advisers. The skits are a laudable way to get students engaged in the information, but, unfortunately, the sobering facts often go in one ear and out the other – and many first-year women assume they will not be the next victims.

Studies, such as the addictions institute’s example, show in black and white that alcohol can be hazardous to students’ health in ways college students might not normally consider. University women must be aware that their alcohol consumption and subsequent behavior, while not necessarily wrong or illegal – as it would be if they drove home while intoxicated – could still put them in jeopardy if they are not careful to stay surrounded by trusted friends.

However, the “it won’t happen to me” attitude prevails all too often. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 20 percent to 25 percent of college women are raped, and that percentage is staggering and troublesome, as it is likely many were preventable. This in no way places blame on any victim, but when women follow appropriate precautions, they can significantly decrease their chances of becoming another statistic.

The University of Minnesota population cannot afford to let studies regarding alcohol trends simply pass by and be forgotten. New, concrete information should be valuable in easily distributed media, such as residence hall newsletters. Keeping students continually updated on such issues might help to keep safety at the forefront of their minds and ultimately decrease alcohol-related victimization.