Every year the number of American's attending college increases. The majority of the incoming freshmen is underage the legal drinking age. Is it realistic to expect these students not to take part in something that is so linked, at least in their minds, with college life?
The National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that 70 percent of 18-year-olds have had at least one drink. Many young college students openly admit to drinking and even getting false IDs buy their own alcohol.
“I hardly drank in high school, but now I can get a fake ID, everyone is getting them left and right,” said one USC freshman who chose to remain anonymous because of his age.
Drinking is often considered to be an deep-rooted aspect of college life as depicted in cult films such as National Lampoon's Animal House or Accepted.
“Just watching those movies and seeing the girls and the alcohol and everybody having a lot of fun, it's just like, I want to be a part of that, why wouldn't you?” said our USC freshman.
Students caught drinking underage on or off campus will be referred to USC's Office of Student Conduct where they are required to complete an alcohol education program and pay a fine of up to $350.
Coordinator of Student Conduct and Outreach Erin Kitchell hopes to dissuade students with an “overly exaggerated” sense of what college is supposed to be. Kitchell says that it is dangerous to believe that there are no consequences for reckless and illegal behavior.
“We do a lot of risk-reduction techniques in the sanctions we provide, pertaining to alcohol, because that's what we know what will be successful,” says Kitchell.
The National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that more than 97,000 students reported they were victims of sexual assaults related to alcohol. Over 150,000 have alcohol related health problems, over half-a-million reported being injured while intoxicated, and more than 690,000 say they've been physically assaulted by someone who had been drinking.
Some students are still reluctant to believe that what they are doing could be putting them in jeopardy.
“Everybody drinks, and it's fun, it's almost like a social thing in college. Whereas in high school you would go outside and play a sport or something. You still do that in college but, in college, on Saturday night you just go and drink with your friends, it's what you do,” said our anonymous freshman.