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Binge drinking for popularity
A new study was submitted to the American Sociology Association that links binge drinking with social status
Published 9/7/2012 6:00:00 AM
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College students with high social status are more likely to binge drink than students with lower social status, according to a study submitted to the American Sociology Association in August.

In the study, even lower status students that binge reported higher satisfaction with their social life than their non-bingeing peers.

But not all students turn to alcohol to try to fit in, said Patricia Maarhuis, coordinator of WSU Alcohol and Drug Counseling, Assessment and Prevention Services.

“Not all students want to be associated with the group that they identified as a higher status group,"she said."They want to associate with students that maybe are more like themselves.”

Maarhuis pointed out the study did not report the negative things that go along with binge drinking.

“Students (who drink) may have felt like they had social satisfaction, but there also may be a higher rate of sexual assault related to alcohol consumption, there might be a higher rate of needing a detox, going into the hospital for a medical emergency,” she said. “They're willing to incur those negative things, so have a bad time along with having a good time.”

The study does not take into account that some cultures and different motivations lead to drinking choices or that perhaps people with higher status are the ones choosing to drink, not the other way around, she said.

“I think that many studies are based on correlation, not necessarily causation, and I think that there's benefit in that,"Maarhuis said."So, we just have to see over time how it adds to the body of literature in terms of high risk drinking. I think it would be good to see if it could be replicated.”

WSU students lean a little more toward disagreeing with the study, according to a Daily Evergreen Facebook poll. A few felt this research made sense, while the rest did not understand how binge drinking and social status correlate.

Jae Lee, a senior biochemical major, said binge drinking might improve one’s social standing, but he did not really see how much it would help.

Junior zoology major Brandon Hutzenbiler said drinking in general, not necessarily binge drinking, would help out as well.

Elise Van Vuren, Pan-Hellenic Council of WSU president, said the council does not feel this study would hold true on the WSU campus.

“While we understand where the article is coming from, we believe this campus and the Greek community provides plenty of opportunities for students to have high social satisfaction while refraining from binge drinking,” Van Vuren said.

Van Vuren also stressed that the Greek community focuses on more important qualities for their members who refrain from drinking alcohol.

“The Greek community focuses on developing leaders and creating experiences that do not involve consumption of alcohol,” Van Vuren said. “For example, our members have opportunities at socials such as date dashes, dances and camp trips as well as through philanthropy and service, sisterhoods, brotherhoods and other events that do not allow the use of alcohol. Many Greek students indicate being very satisfied with alcohol-free social events.”

To read about the study, check out: bit.ly/OQl5Fx

Blurb box:

According to this study, binge drinking is:

  • five drinks in a sitting for males, four for females
  • about 13.7 drinks a week vs. 4.2 drinks for non-binge drinkers
  • considered necessary to fit in on campus by minority and LGBT students

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