Spring is in the air, and we all know what that means. Spring Jam is right around the corner. That means fun, free food and music. This mixture of activities at a University as big as ours, along with (hopefully) good weather, means we know plenty of partying is also a given.
Interestingly enough, while stereotypes may drive us to believe that excessive drinking is part of most college students’ lifestyles, statistics surprisingly show otherwise. According to a report by the Century Council, a national nonprofit organization, more than half of college students surveyed had not engaged in binge drinking in the previous two weeks, and 35 percent reported “0” as their weekly average number of drinks.
While statistics give us a more realistic view of college drinking habits, what is it that makes us believe other stereotypes are the “normal” state of affairs?
Pondering this question, I couldn’t help but think about the many outside effects that seem to subliminally convince many of us that these types of activities are part of the norm when it comes to college and University living. What are the forces that drive us as a society to believe in these dominant ideas without much questioning?
Media seems to be one of the biggest forces at work. Growing up, we see movies and TV shows like “American Pie”, “Greek” and the classic “National Lampoon’s Animal House”, which drive us to believe that college is not primarily for educational purposes but also for partying.
Being that the University of Minnesota is not a completely dry campus — and also that it is filled with fraternity and sorority houses, multiple liquor stores and plenty of clubs and party venues — it paints a picture that seems to fit college campuses shown in these of movies and TV shows and thus encourages students to believe in the stereotypes that are depicted.
Aside from just the media’s effect on society, peer pressure may also play a large role in not only the belief of these stereotypes, but in encouraging participation in excessive drinking and partying as well. While statistics show that a majority of college students don’t drink as much as we’d think based on media portrayals, they also list facts that show certain groups of students tend to drink and party excessively.
The Century Council reported that, on average, 75 percent of students in fraternities and sororities believe that drinking is a major part of the college experience. Another group of students recognized for excessive partying and drinking are student athletes; according to the Century Council, “Student athletes are more often the heaviest drinkers in the overall student population.”
With this said, it shows, in my opinion, how students that are part of groups in which they are constantly surrounded by very close peers, like students in fraternities or sororities or sports teams, are more susceptible to aligning themselves with not only media’s stereotypes about them, but also the peer pressure that comes about from brothers, sisters and fellow teammates — people you trust.
Outside of these specific groups, it is not rare for other students to find themselves in these same situations. We must remember that peer pressure does not always come in the form of someone offering a drink to another but also in the form of groups of people looking down on those who decide not to indulge as peculiar.
All in all, we must still understand that college is a time to have fun. But there are more ways to have fun than just indulging in substances that are, let’s be honest here, not the best for your health when overconsumed, especially when pressured to do so.
So as spring approaches, enjoy the fun, enjoy the sun, but don’t forget your own morals and responsibilities when it comes to how you plan on enjoying your time.
Tiffany Trawick welcomes comments at [email protected]