The Collegian
Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Drinking survey reveals students' habits

A drinking survey from the Richmond College Dean's Office revealed that students' drinking habits do not usually affect their academics.

Dan Fabian, chemical health coordinator and associate dean of Richmond College, created the survey and sent it in an e-mail to undergraduate students on Nov. 3.

Of those who responded, 85 percent said they had not missed a class because of alcohol during the last 14 days, and more than 90 percent said their schoolwork had not been affected.

"I think all in all [students are] making OK choices, but there's a percentage that's not," Fabian said. "They're not letting it interrupt their academics."

In all, 1,226 students responded to the survey, Fabian said. A good sample size for the University of Richmond's undergraduate student population is 300, Fabian said, so the response for this survey was above what was expected.

Nearly equal numbers of men and women and almost equal numbers of students from each class year responded, making the sample size ideal.

The survey asked questions ranging from what students' current drinking habits were to how they perceived drinking on campus.

Seventeen percent of respondents said they abstained from drinking. About 3.3 percent of those who abstained were former drinkers. Twenty seven percent of students were self-proclaimed light drinkers, 44.9 percent were moderate and 9.6 percent were heavy drinkers.

The survey also included questions about how many drinks students estimated they would have in one sitting and how long a sitting or party was. The mean time-length of a party was 4.3 hours, during which students consumed an average of 5.6 drinks. The most number of drinks students have ever had in one sitting, on average, was 8.4.

The perception students have of alcohol use on campus was close to its actual use. In a question about how many drinks students thought other students might consume in one sitting, the mean number was six.

When asked if they agreed with the statement, "Students view this school as a party school," 15 percent strongly agreed, 26 percent moderately agreed, 32 percent moderately disagreed and 27 percent strongly disagreed.

Students seemed pleased with the university's current alcohol policies: 56 percent said the current policies were "about right." Students "strongly supported" continued allowance of alcohol in residence halls, and 40 percent "strongly supported" or "supported" restricting alcohol-related advertisements on campus.

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Fabian said he was concerned about the number of people having hangovers and memory loss because of alcohol during the 14 days before the survey was released. Fifty percent of students also said their sleep was interrupted because of another student's drinking.

So far this semester, 18 students have been transported to a hospital for alcohol-related illnesses. Pre-gaming and drinking games are a large cause of excess drinking, Fabian said.

"Those are things we have to do a better job educating for," Fabian said.

The results of the survey will help Fabian and Wellness instructors modify the required URAware alcohol awareness classes for students.

"We try to adjust our educational efforts based on student response to these surveys," said Steve Bisese, vice president for student development.

Fabian had been trying to create a new curriculum and book for the classes, but a lack of funding for program improvements means changes won't come for at least one more year, Fabian said.

The next step is for Fabian to speak with officials at other universities about the drinking culture on their campuses, then compare those results with Richmond's. During the past, Richmond has always had less drinking than other universities, Fabian said.

Contact writer Stephanie Rice at stephanie.rice@richmond.edu

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