Campus Life

Toh-GA! Toh-GA! Toh-GA!

Remember the scene in Animal House where the Delta fraternity crew just returned from a road trip where they had smashed up Flounder's brother Fred's Lincoln Continental? Flounder looks at the ruined car and starts blubbering. Otter tries to console him:

OTTER: Come on, Flounder. You can't worry forever about your mistakes. You [bleeped] up. You trusted us! Make the best of it. Maybe we can help you.

FLOUNDER: That's easy for you to say. What am l going to l tell Fred?

OTTER: I'll tell you what. I'll swear you were doing a great job taking care of his car, but ... you parked it out back last night, and this morning, it was gone! We tell the police. Your brother's insurance buys him a new car!

FLOUNDER: Will that work?

OTTER: It's gotta work better than the truth.

BLUTO: My advice to you [shoves a six-pack into Flounder's belly] ... start drinking heavily!

Well, that's the problem. Too much heavy drinking. It seems as though we have data on that in the form of a new information from U.S. health officials. Here's a news item parents won't want to see:

At U.S. Colleges, Binge Drinking Is on the Rise

(HealthDay News) -- Binge drinking among American college students is on the rise, along with its consequences of drunk driving and drinking-related deaths, U.S. health officials report.

In fact, drinking-related deaths among students aged 18 to 24 years have increased steadily from 1,440 a year in 1998 to 1,825 in 2005, according to a report from the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Binge drinking also increased during this time, with the proportion of students who said they'd binged on alcohol in the past month going up from 42 to 45 percent.

The proportion of students who admitted to driving under the influence of alcohol rose from about 26 to 29 percent, according to the report.

"Unfortunately, what we see is the proportions of college students who engage in binge drinking has increased," said lead researcher Ralph Hingson, director of the institute's division of epidemiology and prevention research.

"There's a whole culture that needs to be changed around drinking and driving under the influence among young people in the United States," he said. Adding to the problem is that alcohol is cheap and many alcohol beverage makers target high school and college students, Hingson said.

So how can we quantify the effect of binge drinking on campus? In an article that enumerates some of the deatails and provides some definitions, we find:

Binge drinking is when men have more than 5 drinks in one sitting and girls have more than four drinks in one sitting. The binge drinking statistics are scary. Binge drinking is most common in high school and college aged people. In fact nearly 51% of all college males have binged drank and nearly 40% of all female students have done it also. All in all, nearly 42% of all college students have reported that they binge drink.

Statistics also show that on nearly any college campus, 70% of the student body participates in binge drinking. That is more than half of the student body and out of that 70% nearly half of them binge more than once a week. Nearly half of the college binge drinkers have five or more alcohol-related problems on campus. They may be caught by campus security, or they may partake in vandalism and other destructive activities.

Where can all this lead? Well, America certainly doesn't have a corner on the collegiate binge-drinking scene. The British newspaper The Sun reports:

A DRUNKEN Cambridge University student staggers home after a wild party - dubbed Suicide Sunday - ended with revellers collapsing and throwing up . . .

Passers-by were shocked and disgusted after a notorious end-of-exams party lived up to its reputation with students binge drinking.

The party saw bikini-clad students struggling to stand up and vomiting at midday on a Sunday afternoon.

The party was organised by the Wyverns - an all-male Magdalene College drinking society.

It had to be held in a new location for the first time in 80 years after officials banned students from holding the event on university land.

The controversial decision was made after a 23-year-old student was last year arrested during the infamous jelly-wrestling contest for punching a spectator.

Extra security and police were also drafted in this time to patrol the party.

Other college parties elsewhere in Cambridge were completely cancelled.

One outraged passer-by said: "It was only midday on Sunday and there were lots of families and young people around enjoying the sunshine.

"The students were lying across the verges, lots of them were vomiting and they were singing rowdy drinking songs." . . .

So, Moms and Dads of high schoolers heading to college this fall: Beware. Ralph Hingson, director of the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism's division of epidemiology and prevention research, has a challenge for us:

"We as a society have a collective responsibility to try and change this culture of drinking at colleges and among young people."

Right. Good luck with all that, Ralph. Toh-GA! Toh-GA! Toh-GA!

Don't forget to check out all my admissions-related articles and book reviews at College Confidential.