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Bridge Magazine explores the culture and dangers of drinking on college campuses

Sep 30, 2015

It's a rite of passage on college campuses: Game Day.

Yes, thousands pour onto campus for a football game, but there’s also the pre-game and post-game celebrations.

The centerpiece of both: alcohol – lots and lots of alcohol.

Bridge Magazine explored on-campus drinking in a series of reports centering on Saturday, Sept. 12.

Bridge writers Nancy Derringer and Ron French joined us to talk about their reports.

Drinking has always been a part of college campuses, but some things have changed, according to Bridge’s Derringer.

“Our contention in this report is that the level of dangerous drinking, or what you might call ‘extreme drinking’ is up on campuses all over the country. This is by no means a Michigan problem. It is a national problem, and that’s why we took a look at this.”

Bridge hired student reporters to follow the drinking activities of their peers. Here’s an excerpt:

10 a.m.  Steve is drunk. He's had about eight drinks, two more than he says it takes to get him there. At his second pre-game of the day, Steve gets his hands on boxed wine, vodka and keg beer. He's getting sloppy. His words are slurring, he's mindlessly slapping empty cups onto the lawn next door, and his conversation starters are a little off-putting (he compares, for instance, Ann Arbor cops to Nazis). Still, Steve appears to be having fun. He's talking with a lot of different people he knows, giving high fives all around and dancing.

Kids are going to drink. But Bridge’s French says this is a level of drinking that is having dangerous impacts on the students.

“Not only do 40% drink until the point that they black out. You have one in eight women at the University of Michigan who say they were the victim of unwanted sexual contact while they were too drunk to do anything about it. At Northern [Michigan University], you have one in four students who drinks so much that they can’t remember where they were or what they did.”

French says the goal is to find something that will help kids moderate their drinking so they don’t put themselves in harm’s way.

Derringer and French say the level of drinking on college campuses, with the amount and styles of hard liquor and the number of kids ending up in the emergency room with alcohol poisoning, is worth asking hard questions about.