Samantha Spady was a 19-year-old sophomore at Colorado State University in 2004. After a night of binge drinking, her friends left her, passed out, in a fraternity house on campus. They might have been thinking Sam was going to wake up with a big hangover the next morning. They might have been thinking she was probably going to wake up and not even remember how she got there. They might have been thinking she would wake up. Sam Spady, however, did not wake up.
Scott Krueger was an 18-year-old freshman at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1997. After binge drinking for several hours to pledge for a fraternity, he was taken by two other students to his bedroom to lie down. Less than 48 hours later, after he was taken to a hospital by ambulance, Scott died. “We sent our son to MIT for five weeks and came down here and picked him up in a box and took him back in the back of my station wagon,” Scott’s mother, Darlene Krueger, stated in a Nov. 23, 1998 CNN.com article.
These two college students are among the many who have died from binge drinking over the years. In 2001, alcohol-related deaths of college students between the ages of 18 and 24 totaled more than 1,700, according to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. If the trend continues, it will be even bleaker for future college students.
The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University recently released a study that looked deep into the alcohol problem on college campuses. Half of all full-time college students binge drink, according to this study, and in 2005, about one in four of these college students met the medical criteria for substance abuse.
According to this same study, alcohol is the No. 1 drug of choice at colleges and universities. Why wouldn’t it be? It’s relatively inexpensive and for those 21 and older, it’s legal to purchase. For those under 21, it’s easy to get alcohol from other students, just as Sam Spady and Scott Krueger did. Also, drinking is seen as something college students just do. It’s accepted and, even worse, it’s expected.
Surgeon General Kenneth Moritsugu has announced a call to action regarding the advertising of alcohol on college campuses. Many are praising him for it. Others think this is censorship and that college students are responsible enough to make wise decisions regarding alcohol.
Let’s show everyone we are wise enough by not consuming alcohol if we are under 21. Let’s also not provide alcohol for others who are under the legal age. Finally, let’s set a good example by drinking responsibly ourselves. Peer pressure can work both ways, after all.