Scientific Data Does Not Match Party School Image

PULLMAN, Wash. — Newly released data indicates that Washington State University
students are drinking far less than they were in years past. While alcohol abuse remains a
serious problem among college students, it has declined substantially at WSU over the past
eight years.
Data collected from campus-wide, random sample surveys in 1991, 1995 and 1999 show a
trend of students consuming significantly less alcohol and more students choosing to avoid
alcohol. In addition there are fewer students reporting alcohol-related problems such as
hangovers and missed classes.
John A. Miller, coordinator of substance abuse programs at WSU, says research data at
WSU and many other campuses across the country indicate that the vast majority of students
are not binge drinkers.
“Focusing on the minority of students who abuse alcohol tends to perpetuate the myth that
most students drink excessively,” says Miller. “We have learned that focusing on the majority of
students who are making healthy, responsible choices empowers more students to assert their
values as healthy, responsible, caring individuals. As a result, more and more students are
choosing to use alcohol in moderation or to not use it at all.”
In the fall of 1991, the number of students reporting that they had more than five drinks on
average at a social event was 58.7 percent. By the spring of 1999, the percentage of students in
that category had fallen to 17.6 percent. The number of students who reported they consume
less than four drinks rose from 29.7 percent in ’91 and 65.2 percent in ’99.
Other recent data shows a decrease in the number of emergency room visits and a declining
number of alcohol arrests on campus.
WSU has implemented a number of programs to reduce alcohol abuse. They include
restrictions on alcohol at parties in dormitory facilities and fraternal organizations, mandatory
alcohol education programs for all living groups and media information campaigns aimed at
“The data clearly shows that the image of WSU as a party school is somewhat inaccurate,”
says President Samuel Smith, “We know that we still have problems with alcohol abuse, but the
programs we have put in place do seem to be working.”
Smith says the university recognizes that the on-campus restrictions have led to students
socializing off-campus. Now Smith hopes to get help from parents and from the community to
tackle off-campus drinking problems.