College Drinking Increases in Coed DormsBy Ned WickerCollege age students and drinking have long gone hand in hand, as if weekend partying was a kind of right of passage. When I first attended college, there were no such things as coed dorms, but according to an article in USA Today, coed dorms are actually a contributing factor to the increased use of alcohol by students. At first glance I kind of shrugged my shoulders, but really, I can see how this is an important contributing factor. When I was in school, the weekend trips to the bars were routine, but there was not a lot of drinking in the dorms. Of course, guys would bring drinks in from time-to-time, but it wasn’t a regular thing. Perhaps it was my own naïveté in not realizing a potentially escalating problem, but I honestly don’t recall a big deal. The bars were within a short walking distance, so I managed to stay well lubricated and flunk my classes as a result. But now dorms are coed, they have boy’s and girls on the same floor sometimes even in the same wing. Writer Greg Tioppo’s article said that those living in coed dorms are two-and-a-half times more likely to drink to excess on a weekly basis. The presence of women was not a contributing factor to my drinking, as I was more than capable of drinking too much on my own, but Toppo says that a study shows the fact of coed dorms contributing to this phenomenon. Over 90% of dorms are coed, and men and women are separated either by floors or by wings. The article says colleges are looking at this to see if the coed dorms actually contribute to binge drinking. If this is considered a problem, maybe the old ways are better—separate them by buildings. Binge drinking wasn’t the concern when I went to college, but then there were the panty raids… There’s also a moral issue brought up by the study, as those living in coed dorms are more likely to “hook up” with someone without any consideration of a long-term relationship. Those living in coed dorms were likely to drink excessively each week 41.5% of the time, compared to the 17.6% of students who lived in single-sex housing. That suggests a huge social pressure to me and it can certainly contribute to many problems for the kids going forward. There is a natural sexual tension anyway, but add coed living and alcohol to that and the problem isn’t going to get easier. I suppose it’s more liberal, or more tolerant, or more enlightened, but just a cursory glance at the situation suggests to me that it’s a bad idea. He studies point out that binge drinking on college campuses is about 40% of the student population nation wide. Any student prone to alcohol addiction is likely to start in college.The Harvard School of Public Health, according to the article, has “consistently found that about 44% of students at four-year colleges in the USA are binge drinkers.” That’s a staggering number. That suggests to me a high level of peer pressure and misguided views on what is, or what is not cool. Of course, it can be argued that any campus dorm, at any time in history, is naturally going to be a place where the outlook on life is more casual, shall we say, and thus young people are inclined to engage in reckless behavior to some degree. Then again, drinking in college is sort of a right of passage, but parents would be well advised to understand that coed dorms, by their very nature, are invitations for risky behavior. Considering that only about 20-25 percent of people in most communities are church goers, the chance that there would be any religious prohibition to any behavior is limited. Another concern about binge drinking, regardless of the dorm, is the possibility of alcohol poisoning. The human body can only handle so much alcohol before it does something to signal a stop. There are the stories about college kids who literally drink themselves to death, mainly because they went way over the line on a given occasion. But if students are engaging in more and more binge drinking behavior, and they have built up a tolerance for alcohol, the sheer amounts they are capable of consuming are at the very least problematic. The time to help solve this kind of problem occurs long before college. Parents are on the front line of defense against alcohol abuse by being parents and not buddies. Parents need to teach their kids about alcohol use and personal responsibility, rather than leave any of those parental responsibilities to college administrators or the law. Parents need to instill some sort of moral or ethical code in their kids, giving them a compass, a guide to life. Most of the time I think college students get into trouble because, at some level, they’re ignorant, just like I was when I first went off to school. It has nothing to do with intelligence, but more to do with not knowing what they don’t know. Not being old enough to distinguish what is in your best interest and what isn’t. Heavy drinking certainly falls into the latter catagory. Coed dorms? Probably not a good idea. Probably never was. For more about Alcohol Addictions
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