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How Much Do You Drink?

BU Today surveys role of alcohol on campus


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National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week kicks off on Monday, October 17, on more than 1,000 campuses across the country.

Next week, BU Today will publish a series of stories and videos on the role that alcohol plays on the BU campus. We will look at a variety of issues, including peer pressure, the current drinking age (21 in Massachusetts), disciplinary action, responsible use of alcohol, and health and wellness.

But first, we want to hear from BU students. Please take a moment to fill out the short survey above about your drinking habits. The survey will be open through Thursday, October 14 at 3 p.m., and all answers will be private. We will share the results on Monday. And thanks.


32 Comments on How Much Do You Drink?

  • Anonymous on 10.12.2010 at 2:27 am

    I drink 3-5 times per week.

  • Anonymous on 10.12.2010 at 8:17 am

    This is a terrible survey. The answers for how many drinks you have per week is not collectively exhaustive which makes this survey inaccurate and impossible to use any data from here. It goes from “none” to (I think it was) 3-6 while skipping 1 or 2 and then I don’t believe it had an upper limit of the maximum and above (ie 10+).

  • Anonymous on 10.12.2010 at 10:41 am

    I wasn’t thrilled with the options for amounts you drink during the week. The topmost option being 6+ drinks can be misconstrued. If I have a glass of wine every night, that is 6+. If I have 14 beers on a Saturday, that’s 6+. If I drink 6 beers a night, 7 nights a week, that’s 6+. More options would’ve led to a more informative survey.

  • Anonymous on 10.12.2010 at 11:20 am

    The use of the 6+ drinks per week is a standard measurement for quick alcohol screenings to flag someone who MIGHT have an alcohol problem. It is not a diagnosis, but if you DO drink 6+ then there would be cause for follow up Q’s.

  • Anonymous on 10.12.2010 at 11:21 am

    As others have mentioned, this survey is very poorly designed. Please consult some of the BU faculty to who teach courses on research and survey methods, in order to ensure that your survey collects the data that answers the questions that you are interested in.

  • Anonymous on 10.12.2010 at 12:35 pm

    I think that everyone who posted a comment is correct.

  • Anonymous on 10.12.2010 at 3:00 pm

    I agree. Survey is very poorly put together.

  • Anonymous on 10.13.2010 at 7:14 am

    Why is there is no option for drinking 1-2 drinks per week?

  • Anonymous on 10.13.2010 at 8:23 am

    Agreed, this survey is weak.

    To be realistic, just about anyone that has a social life on campus drinks a lot more than 6+ drinks a week. If you go out Thursday, Friday, Saturday and you’re pre-gaming then heading to a party or bar, there’s no way you’re drinking less than 6+ drinks a week.

    That might be considered alcoholism if you’re around 50 and have kids and families to take care of. But come on, for college kids that’s not a frightening number unless you want to assume that the population that has a social life on campus is full of raging alcoholics. There are indeed some kids that have drinking problem, but they are drinking probably 5 times as much as that a week. If you want to figure out how much the student population really drinks you need a lot more options than that.

  • Anonymous on 10.13.2010 at 8:24 am

    Not just anyone can develop a comprehensive survey that is both valid and reliable. The fact that BU Today is supporting such an ill-designed survey is disappointing, and hopefully they will not publish the results in an article that portrays these “findings” as sound.

  • Anonymous on 10.13.2010 at 8:30 am

    The survey would also benefit from questions specifically alluding to ‘binge drinking’. Currently, I have answered that I am 21+ and have blacked out in the past. In this current form, there is no way to infer whether I have blacked out from drinking prior to turning 21 or whether it happened last night.

    It would be helpful to understand the context these questions are serving to answer. While some students might fear the repercussions for answering truthfully, the value of this survey (i.e. how it will be used by the school, what answers they are looking to answer) may actually result in less biased responses. Also, there is no controlling for how many times one person can answer…thus there should be no statistical analysis run on these results, unless it is for purely descriptive purposes.

    As mentioned before, please consult the professors in the statistics and biostatistics departments, if this survey will be used for any inference of drinking habits.

  • Anonymous on 10.13.2010 at 9:05 am

    Poorly designed

    I agree with the comments, particularly the note that Question 2 isn’t collectively exhaustive. I got stymied there–I only have 1-2 drinks per week, and that’s not an option. As a result, moderate drinkers like myself are less likely to finish the survey, biasing the results.

    I second the suggestion that the survey makers connect with faculty who specialize in research methods.

  • Anonymous on 10.13.2010 at 9:32 am

    BU faculty are international leaders in the study of alcohol-related issues. They were not involved in the design of this survey, which will not produce useful results. An unfortunate missed opportunity given the importance of the issue.

  • Anonymous on 10.13.2010 at 9:41 am

    Just to emphasize how bad this survey was, I am going to leave a superfluous comment: This survey was very poorly written, and will provide nearly no meaningful data. I look forward to seeing how they misconstrue the numbers in a couple days when they report the results.

  • Anonymous on 10.13.2010 at 10:50 am

    the survey doesn’t ask to verify that you currently are a BU student, or what year you are in in your studies…

  • Anonymous on 10.13.2010 at 11:31 am

    Well, at least the comments to this article are amusing.

    BU Today. Making BU look dumb since

  • Anonymous on 10.13.2010 at 11:52 am

    Lack of conceptualization

    When I saw the link for this survey, i was quite intrigued to participate. But, after an overview of questions, I was vastly disappointed with the construction of the questionnaire. Among my concerns of course where the questionnaire’s lack of response items that accurately measured alcoholism within the student body. But, what bothered me most was question four which asked if you had ever done something you regretted because of being drunk. Everybody has different notions of what regretting a certain action means. Though we may, as a collective society, agree upon a set list of actions that may be considered regrettable, that still does not give the liberty for researchers to assume that everybody has the same conception of what a regrettable action is. I truly hope that the staff at BU Today takes into consideration the comments that have been put forward, and not publish or even attempt to analyze data attained from the survey.

  • Anonymous on 10.13.2010 at 2:07 pm


    I don’t understand how this passes as a survey. I agree with everyone’s comments here. 3-5 drinks? 6 or more? What constitutes a serving of alcohol? If I drink a few shots of 151 one night, is that the same as a few beers a different night? No. And someone who drinks a beer whose 6’5″ and 200+ pounds is not going to be affected like someone whose 5’5″ and 120 pounds. As far as regretting actions goes, some people (like myself) simply don’t have any regrets. Even when something bad happens, I look at it as fate. That whole question is completely subjective. There’s not even a question of ‘Do you enjoy drinking?’ or ‘When do you drink?’ I’m strictly a social drinker but this makes me look like an alcoholic. This would be far better if they asked height/weight, types of drinks and how many per type, and figured out an estimated average BAC per person per night of drinking. Two thumbs down.

  • Anonymous on 10.13.2010 at 3:03 pm

    I like how BU prides itself on being a research institution but doesn’t even know how to construct a simple questionnaire.

    This school is so backwards on its understanding of alcohol within the student population it worries me how some people think they can run this school if they are so out of touch with the student population.

    6+ drinks is the worst benchmark. I remember taking an alcohol awareness class and having the same types of questions and just laughing at how stupid the data they collected would be.

    This is NOT “BU” as it is today, and certainly not “Campus Life.”

    Good job dropping the ball.

  • Jason on 10.13.2010 at 7:49 pm

    Easier to recall past week than to estimate "usual"

    I think the way you ask the question, “How many drinks do you have a week?” will result in less accurate data than if you ask them how much alcohol they actually consumed during the past week. Although the previous week for some students will be atypical in that they consumed more than their usual and atypical for others in that they consumed less than their usual, it all averages out with the entire student body as long as you’re not surveying the week following a major event or holiday, such as New Years Eve. Each person’s alcohol consumption can fluctuate from week to week, so it’s difficult for people to do a “usual” count in their heads. It is much easier for people to recall what they actually did during the past week.

  • Troll on 10.13.2010 at 8:48 pm

    I do everything!

    I do agree that this survey is a bit shoddy, however they did get the lot of us to start thinking about alcoholism even if it only was a little bit o.O

    On the other hand, with this survey it’s possible to drink none, 3-5, AND 6+ drinks per week along with being above AND below 21 yrs. old. Clickity click-click.

  • Anonymous on 10.13.2010 at 10:54 pm

    The biggest problem with this survey is the fact that it is answered on a voluntary basis. Anyone who has taken a basic stats class should know that unless you do a simple random sample of a population, you results will have an absurdly high margin of error. It doesn’t seem like much thought was put into the questions either, not that the results will be meaningful regardless.
    I also find it irritating that some equate the legality of an action with morality, as if stepping across a border can make a victimless “crime” committed by a legal adult any more or less acceptable. It is not an issue of right and wrong, it is at most a medical issue. With a little political courage people 18+ could be drinking in more secure environments spread over the week, rather than getting it all out of their system at one time, just like in almost every other non-theocratic country.

  • Anonymous on 10.13.2010 at 11:49 pm

    Nothing between “None” and “3-5?” Seriously? I put none, but it’s probably actually 1 on average. …but certainly not 3-5!

  • Anonymous on 10.14.2010 at 2:17 am

    Re: “I like how BU prides itself on being a research institution but doesn’t even know how to construct a simple questionnaire.”

    …as if the whole of BU is to blame for this sub-par display of research comprehension and sound survey construction. I, for one, wouldn’t want to be lumped in the same category with whoever is responsible for this poor questionnaire — and neither would, I’m assuming, those who have previously commented!

  • Jessica (BUSPH MPH student) on 10.14.2010 at 3:27 am

    BU Today should consult with BU School of Public Health.

    I highly recommend that those who designed this survey and/or intend to analyze its results should consult with faculty or students at the BU School of Public Health. Any Community Health Sciences faculty member (or second-semester MPH student) would be able to help you improve your survey design as a quantitative assessment tool.

    For example, survey participants are unable to convey the possibility that they might not drink for most weeks, but sometimes drink twice per week. The distinction between the frequencies of 0 and “3-5” strike me as quite relevant to your intended assessment. Furthermore, seeing that “3-5” suggests to students that if they are not abstinent from alcohol, then “3-5” is the standard amount!

    Are you intending to influence BU students with low consumption habits in this way?

  • Anonymous on 10.14.2010 at 6:44 am

    What is a good survey?

    Just like many of you I do feel the survey are somewhat useless, and the data are somewhat irrelevant. But if you take into context of number of alcoholics vs the number people that are part of BU, you’ll see the numbers of 3-5/6 is not that far fetch. Faculties, grad students, and professionals that aside from the undergrad population is still a big number. And I would believe that there are probably 1/2 the people that takes the survey will select 3-5 drinks. The survey wants to know how much you drink, not how much it could affect you. I believe the survey is trying to determine a trend and not trying to identify all the alcoholics in BU.

  • Anonymous on 10.14.2010 at 7:39 am

    As already noted several times over, this questionnaire was far from accurate in terms of determining alcohol use and/or abuse on campus. There was no time frame for the questions other than “have you ever…”. This discounts one-time instances of drunkenness and past habits that people may be answering “yes” to and instead implies that these are not only regular but also recent occurrences. And since when do people consume either 0 or 3+ drinks a week? What about the 1-2 range that countless people surely fall into? Not only is this questionnaire inaccurate, but it shows blatant biases that the university (or at least the survey creator) has that all college students drink irresponsibly. I sincerely hope that the “results” obtained are not used in any conclusive way.

  • Anonymous on 10.14.2010 at 9:16 am

    Was this survey approved by the IRB?

  • Anonymous on 10.14.2010 at 11:42 am

    You can select all of the answers to all of the questions…

  • Anonymous on 10.14.2010 at 12:17 pm

    Someone should have taken a marketing class...

    I’m going to have to agree with everyone else here: this survey is poorly written. The questions are too broad and the answers are too subjective. I recommend recreating the entire survey if you want any legitimate analysis to come out of it.

  • David on 10.14.2010 at 5:54 pm

    Even more concerning than the content and quality of the survey, is that BU Today has continued to push it out day after day with no response or consideration to the often thoughtful and well-informed comments found here. Sort of embarrassing, really.

  • orourkej on 10.15.2010 at 12:41 pm

    Response to Your Concerns

    Our informal survey was intended simply to gain a snapshot of alcohol use on campus. We never suggested that the survey was scientifically designed with the intention of gaining rigorous analysis.

    Despite the objections of some readers, it is interesting to note that more than 3,100 did take the time to answer the questions we asked.

    Next week, we will present a five part series on alcohol use on campus in which we talk to –and hear from–a number of experts in the field.

    John O’Rourke
    Editor, BU Today

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