Activities Key to Cutting College Binge Drinking

It may seem like binge drinking is just a fact of college life, but a number of institutions of higher-education are proving otherwise.

Survey data show notable drops in student binge drinking at several colleges and universities, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported Feb. 16. For example:

  • Alcohol-related violations dropped 3.7 percent at North Dakota State University in Fargo, N.D. over two years.
  • Between 2007 and 2009, “problem drinking” fell 12 percent at the University of Pittsburgh.
  • The number of Purdue students who engaged in binge drinking sank from 48 percent in 2006 to 37.3 percent in 2009.
  • Frostburg State University in Maryland saw binge drinking plummet 27% over the past decade.

Prevention advocates say the drop in risky drinking is no accident. Students and administrators are making concerted efforts to provide students with fun, late-night activities that are alcohol-free – and offered regularly.

What could possibly compete with a beer keg? The Wall Street Journal lists a dizzying array of activities, including alcohol-free tailgate parties, carnivals, movie showings, simulated sumo wrestling, bowling, arcade games, and contests.

For more ideas, check out Outside the Classroom, a Massachusetts-based provider of prevention programming and research for college students, mentioned in the Journal article. According to the organization’s CEO, Brandon Busteed, similar alcohol-free activities are provided on a regular, coordinated basis by about 100 colleges and universities.

But what if the alcohol-free events only attract non-drinkers or light drinkers?

“Philosophically it doesn’t matter to us,” said Laura Oster-Aaland, director of orientation and student success at North Dakota State University in Fargo, N.D. “We feel it’s really important to support those students who are non-drinkers, because if there’s nothing for them to do they will probably become drinkers.”

The numbers suggest she’s on to something.


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