Party Culture in U.S. Colleges

How Do We Control It?

In high school I was exposed to alcohol and my peers drinking and partying like most teenagers that age, but that was nothing compared to how my peers in college behaved under the influence. Since starting college there have been several occasions where I’ve heard my friends say “The goal is to black out tonight!”. I’m thinking to myself “Why the HELL would you ever want to drink until you passed out only to forget everything that happened the night before?”.

I thought that there is more maturity within college students than high school students in these situations but that surely hasn’t been the case in my experience. I’ve attended Washington State University and Western Washington University and the results are always the same, college students binge drinking like there’s no tomorrow. With binge drinking comes reckless behavior such as, altercations with others, sexual assaults and even death.

Party Smart

From my personal experience as a college student at two different universities in Washington state, university administration acknowledges alcohol abuse happening on their campuses. Before I was able to register for courses at WSU, all incoming students were required to attend a workshop where we were taught the effects of alcohol, with one slight difference than what is being taught in public high schools today. The difference? We were literally told to “party smart”. Seriously. We were given magnets and stickers that said “PARTY SMART” almost encouraging students to party, rather than condemning parties all together. It suggests that all students will touch alcohol at one point or another in their college career. Statistics reveal that these mandatory workshops are not enough because these incidents continue to climb each year on college campuses.

False Sense of Security

Each year over 100,000 sexual assaults and 1,800 deaths occur on U.S college campuses related to alcohol. It seems that although universities educate and instill these facts into students minds it doesn’t eliminate the issue all together. It actually creates a “false sense of security” for some. I asked college students at Western Washington University on a Facebook poll if they felt safe attending parties, more felt safe than not. When I spoke to the few students who said they did not feel safe attending parties they all had the same answer. The students felt that they were capable of handling themselves in a chaotic party environment but they do not trust their peers that are under the influence, stating “They don’t know how the will behave”. Students said that it didn’t matter how much universities briefed them about alcohol abuse, each situation involving alcohol is different in someway, so there would never be one specific answer to any given incident. A few students who answered they felt safe partying said that they felt safe because the university discussed how to deal with situations and know the correct way of handling incidents. Referring back to a false sense of security, both sides of the survey exhibit the idea. Because each person is different, each person will interpret knowledge and situations differently.

Problem Solved

There really is no ONE solution in eliminating alcohol related incidents at U.S. colleges and universities. Although universities recognize these incidents of alcohol abuse and try to inform students the best ways to go about these situations, it appears that it is still not enough. It is highly unlikely that we will ever see zero incidents on college campus resulting from alcohol, but the answer to decreasing the number of incidents in the coming years are most likely from several solutions pieced together.