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Alcohol availability a recipe for abuse, need for awareness

In an era when partying on campus is ranked and celebrated in various magazines, college students are binge drinking at an incredible rate. While USF has never been ranked on any of those lists, students have plenty of opportunities to cut loose on the weekends in spots such as Ybor City and Channelside. Over the years, violations of USF’s alcohol policy have risen steadily.

From 2004-2005, the majority of charged violations referred to student judicial services on the Tampa campus – approximately 46 percent – dealt with student violations of USF’s alcohol policies. Of the 604 cases, 274 were alcohol violations, with 265 of those violations dealing with underage possession of alcohol.

Accessing alcohol is not difficult for underage students with the right friends.

“A lot of people know people who are 21, and they’ll get them alcohol when they want it. It’s easily accessible,” sophomore Joseph Wise said.

April is Alcohol Awareness Month, an effort that is celebrating its 20th anniversary. As part of Alcohol Awareness Month, students are encouraged to learn more about the risks and undertakings of binge drinking and the affects alcohol can have on the body.

According to some students on campus, academics are not always the top priority when coming to college. For its 20th anniversary, Alcohol Awareness Month is focusing on underage drinking.

“Everyone wants to have fun and party a little bit, but it’s a big transition from high school to college,” Wise said. “You don’t have your parents there, (so) it allows you to do whatever it is you want to do. I do think that people should be more responsible and more focused on academics instead of partying. It will catch up with you later.”

According to, more than one in 10 young adults aged 18 to 24 are heavy drinkers, and nearly two in five are binge drinkers. Some of the consequences involved with drinking or binge drinking are higher frequencies of sexual assault, vandalism, assault and injury.

“I always worry about people drinking because it makes them more vulnerable,” said senior Shira Wender, who lives on campus. “You never know what other people might do, so you should always drink with friends.”

Wender doesn’t drink but has had roommates who do. She described USF as a party school.

“I’m not like many other students because I don’t drink that much, but I think most people consider drinking as their social time or their time to have fun,” Wender said.

Most of the information provided about underage and binge drinking cites that parents need to take an active role in their children’s education about the hazards of alcohol. Some claim to start as early as the fifth grade.

“The issue of underage drinking is a complex problem, one that can only be solved through a sustained and cooperative effort,” President of National Commission Against Drunk Driving (NCADD) Robert J. Lindsey said in an article on “But if we care about the health and well-being of our children, the bottom line is that we need to do everything we can to discourage them from drinking for as long as possible.”

Alcohol Fast Facts

Death: 1,700 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die each year from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, including motor vehicle crashes.

Injury: 599,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are unintentionally injured under the influence of alcohol.

Sexual Assault: More than 97,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape.