Inside The Current State Of College Drinking Culture

Oct 4, 2018
Originally published on October 4, 2018 3:29 pm

With Meghna Chakrabarti

College drinking culture today. Students talk about their habits and attitudes around alcohol.


Madeleine D’Angelo, 21-year-old senior at Boston College. Intern at On Point. From Chevy Chase, Maryland. (@mads_805)

Brianna Pickhardt, 22 years old, graduated from Florida State University in May. Currently a first-year law student at the George Washington University Law School. From West Palm Beach, Florida.

Jack McCarthy, senior at Arizona State University. ASU Barstool Sports website director. From Madison, Wisconsin. (@jmccarthy55)

Wesley Perkins, professor of sociology at Hobart and William Smith Colleges (@HWSColleges), who has been conducting research on high-risk alcohol consumption in college students for three decades. Director of the Alcohol Education Project, which provides research, education and strategies to reduce alcohol abuse in colleges nationally and internationally. Author of “The Social Norms Approach to Preventing School and College Age Substance Abuse.”

From The Reading List

Psychology Today: “Kavanaugh Hearings Shine a Light on College Alcohol Abuse” — “The recent hearings on the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court are notable for many reasons. But, as a psychology and health writer, it was Kavanaugh’s attempt to normalize his drinking and that of his friends in high school and college that caught my attention. ‘Everyone did it. Didn’t you?’ seemed to be his message. For example, at various times Kavanaugh said:

“‘I drank beer with my friends. Almost everyone did. Sometimes I had too many beers. Sometimes others did. I liked beer. I still like beer.’

“‘We drank beer and, you know, so did, I think, the vast majority of people our age at the time. But in any event, we drank beer—and still do. So whatever, you know.’

“‘Sometimes I had too many beers. I liked beer. I still like beer. But I never drank beer to the point of blacking out, and I never sexually assaulted anyone.’

“‘There is a bright line between drinking beer, which I gladly do, and which I fully embrace, and sexually assaulting someone, which is a violent crime.’

“Unfortunately, Kavanaugh is right that excessive drinking is common among some groups and in certain places, such as college fraternities. But common as it is, excessive drinking is certainly not harmless or normal. With college drinking in the news, now would be a good time to review the statistics about the harms of college and underage drinking.”

New York Times: “At the Center of the Kavanaugh Accusations: Heavy Drinking” — “As accusations of sexual impropriety have threatened to upend the confirmation of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, a common theme has emerged connecting the decades-old alleged incidents: heavy drinking.

“Christine Blasey Ford described Judge Kavanaugh as ‘stumbling drunk’ when, as a 17-year-old prep school student in suburban Washington, he allegedly tried to force himself on her during a party in 1982. Then, at an alcohol-fueled gathering during his freshman year at Yale, his former classmate Deborah Ramirez says, Judge Kavanaugh exposed himself to her. He has denied both allegations.

“The backdrop to these complaints was a culture of hard partying that permeated certain quarters of high school and college life in the 1980s, when binge drinking among teenagers had reached record levels. No evidence has emerged to indicate that the episodes of drinking ascribed to Judge Kavanaugh back then carried forward into his professional or family life, or that the handful of F.B.I. background checks he has faced in his official Washington career unearthed any red flags about his drinking as an adult.”

CNN: “Brett Kavanaugh’s drinking at Yale comes into renewed focus” — “During his time at one of the nation’s most elite universities, there’s no question that Judge Brett Kavanaugh achieved academic success. But when it comes to the frequency and severity of his drinking there, some former classmates are raising questions about how truthful Kavanaugh was in his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee and offering to tell FBI investigators what they know.

“Former Yale classmate Chad Ludington became the latest to accuse Kavanaugh of being dishonest, saying that when he watched Kavanaugh deliver his testimony under oath to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, he ‘cringed’ and added that he was willing to talk to the FBI.

“‘Brett was a frequent drinker, and a heavy drinker,’ Ludington said in a statement Sunday. ‘When Brett got drunk, he was often belligerent and aggressive. On one of the last occasions I purposely socialized with Brett, I witnessed him respond to a semi-hostile remark, not by defusing the situation, but by throwing his beer in a man’s face and starting a fight that ended with one of our mutual friends in jail.’ “

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