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We don't drink like you think

By Liam Welsh
On May 2, 2017

College students and drinking go hand in hand, right? From their depiction in movies like “Neighbor’s” and “Animal House,” and news stories about wild parties, we get a clear idea about college students: They love boozing.’

While this is certainly true at some schools, Castleton’s reality might be something else.

Naturally, there are students at Castleton who drink alcohol. But how many actually drink? And how often? And who is drinking?

According to the National College Health Assessment’s survey of Castleton, the actual numbers are very different than what people assume. About a fourth of the students surveyed haven’t even had one drink in the last 30 days, and less than five percent reported daily or near-daily consumption.  While these numbers are ideal, the question becomes: How many students are filling out these surveys? And are they being honest?

A separate, face-to-face survey of a dozen students from various social backgrounds indicated otherwise. Of the 12 students, only two reported filling out the NCHA survey at some point in the past. When asked directly about their drinking habits, they told another story.

A common belief is that athletes are the ones doing the drinking. Of the 12 students surveyed, two are on sports teams at Castleton, and another two were formerly on teams at Castleton.

Senior Chris Manjuck is part of a team and admitted to indulging more than the NCHA survey indicates.

“Well I play rugby, so there’s that. I’d say about 15 beers on an average weekend night. Budweiser of course,” he said.

Junior Mike Buonocore isn’t on a team, but he still enjoys putting a few back.

“I’m a Friday night guy. Saturdays I keep it down. But when I drink I go for about 10 to 13 beers. I’d have to say I go for beer if I want to drink more in a night.”

       While one student-athlete reported heavy drinking, some students that aren’t involved with sports also reported high alcohol consumption on weekends.

But senior Lacy Parmenter said she doesn’t drink to such excess.

“I probably have between five and seven drinks on an average weekend night, she said – adding that she typically doesn’t do much drinking during the week.  

Other students choose not to drink as much, or at all. Senior Adam Cook prefers to keep things more low key, consuming an average of zero to two drinks on a typical weekend night.

“If I’m gonna drink at all, I do it at home. That way I know if I make an ass of myself it’s not happening in public,” he said.

Senior Will Chmielewski has never touched the stuff in his four years at Castleton, or 21 years of living.

“Even though I legally can, I just really don’t have a desire to,” he said. 

When asked how many drinks an average Castleton student drank on a weekend night, the perceived number was lower than reality. More than half of the students believed seven drinks is what the average Spartan consumes. A few believed it to be as low as three, and some as high as 11.

According to the NCHA, 60 percent of Castleton students reported having between zero and four drinks at the last party they attended. Another 20 percent had five or six, and the remaining 20 percent had seven or more drinks. So the NCHA survey indicates that the average student consumes five to six drinks on an average weekend night.

However, when asked directly, students indicated this number was slightly higher at seven drinks on average.

  Statistics and personal accounts from students indicate that while drinking isn’t necessarily a problem at Castleton, it does happen. So what does this mean to people who work for the school to combat student drinking?

Jamie Bentley, coordinator of Campus Wellness Education, believes drinking both is and isn’t a problem at Castleton. She referred to the NCHA statistics.

“On one hand, you see 12 percent of students reported never drinking and another 12 percent reported only drinking once in the last 30 days. So a quarter of our students report little to no drinking,” she said.
       She goes on to reiterate, however, that there is a small percentage of students who claim to drink daily or almost every day.

“So a good chunk of students either aren’t drinking at all, or are drinking a lot,” she said.

Keith Molinari, director of Public Safety, had a similar take on students drinking at Castleton.

“We’re pretty dead even this year with last year. From April 2015 to April of last year there were 100 incidents on campus related to alcohol. Coincidentally that number stayed the same from last April to this year,” he said.

“Underage drinking and binge drinking are always viewed as an issue. However, I don’t believe those numbers are disproportionate at Castleton than they are at other universities of higher education,” Molinari continued.

He explained that although the report shows five percent of students drinking almost every day, you still have 95 percent of students doing a pretty good job keeping things in check.

 

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