BU Today

Campus Life + Health & Wellness

Tackling Student Drinking

The average college student spends nearly twice as much money each year on alcohol as on textbooks. Nearly a third of all college students admit to having missed at least one class because of alcohol, and excessive drinking has been linked to poor academic performance, according to the Core Institute, a group based at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, that surveys college students about drinking habits and drug use on campus.

BU offers alcohol education classes throughout the year to help students make informed, responsible choices about drinking, and a list of guidelines for safe and responsible drinking is available on the Wellness & Residential Education office’s Web site. Tips include limiting yourself to one drink per hour if you choose to drink alcohol; consuming no more than four (for women) or five (for men) drinks per evening; and drinking a glass of water for every alcoholic beverage consumed. Last week, students got a more comprehensive look at alcohol and safety when BU joined more than 1,000 campuses across the country in observing National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week, with a series of events designed to bring attention to student drinking.

Beth Grampetro, health and wellness educator in BU’s Office of Residence Life, has organized Alcohol Awareness Week events on campus for the past three years. “We know we’re not necessarily going to change every student’s behavior,” she says, “but we need to draw attention to drinking behavior on campus. We want to show students that we know this is an issue for them, and we’re not afraid to talk about it. Yes, the University has policies and expectations, but we also want students to have information so that they can make responsible choices.”

Kicking off the week was an information table set up on the George Sherman Union plaza, where students could find literature about alcohol and could ask questions. At a Boston University Police Department event in the GSU Link, they could try on Beer Goggles, glasses that show how vision is distorted by alcohol consumption.

On Thursday evening, the event Party Hosting 101: How to keep you and your guests safe, cosponsored by BU’s Pan-Hellenic Association, was aimed at students who live off-campus as well as fraternities and sororities. Grampetro says that sponsors “wanted to say to students living off campus, ‘Look, we know some of you will throw parties and some of you will attend parties. We want to give you some suggestions — whether you’re a host or a guest — about how you can behave in a way that’s going to be safer and more responsible.’”

The week culminated in Be Safe @ BU, a program introduced during September’s Safety Week. Administrators and faculty were available in residence hall lobbies between 10 p.m. and midnight to remind students going out to think about their safety. They distributed wallet-sized cards with telephone numbers for taxi services and emergency information. Students reacted positively to the program, Grampetro says. “There’s a certain shock value to it when students see faculty members in their lobby at 11:30 on a Friday night,” she says.

For more information on alcohol education at BU, call the Office of Wellness and Residential Education at 617-353-3540.

Brian Sirman, a campus residence hall director, can be reached at bsirman@bu.edu.