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Data on Student Alcohol Consumption

Feb 28 2019

Reproduction of the 'Frosh Survey Results, 2012-2018' main page, in JPG format.
To download a copy of the full 'Frosh Survey Results, 2012-2018' report in PDF format, please click here .

The following was emailed to all undergraduates.

Dear students,

I am writing today because I believe it is important to share data on student alcohol consumption to help advance our collective discussions on this topic.

As you can see at this website, we are publishing the first in what we anticipate will become an annual report. The three pieces of this year’s report provide information on alcohol use for undergraduate students as a whole, alcohol use for frosh, and related information.

Much of the data is drawn from anonymous annual surveys, including one that will be conducted within the next week or two. My thanks to all who have responded to these surveys in the past, and I hope you will continue to do so.

Today’s report shows that despite numerous efforts to reduce the harmful impact of alcohol in our community, the problem has persisted. 

It will take our collective efforts to make our community a safer place.

Striking data

As you will see in the data, on average, our campus sends at least one student to the emergency room per week who is in some kind of trouble connected with alcohol. It could be alcohol poisoning or an alcohol-related injury or both. This has been the case for eight of the past 10 years.

While I recognize that having a great many students living on campus may be contributing to these numbers, and while I am relieved that students know how and when to seek care, I am concerned that so many need this level of medical attention so often. To me, this is a sign that too many of our students are drinking at levels well beyond normal recreational use. I am concerned about the impacts on students’ safety, well-being, and academic success.

Binge drinking

Reproduction of the 'Alcohol Use Trends, 2012-2018' main page, in JPG format.
To download a copy of the full 'Alcohol Use Trends, 2012-2018' report in PDF format, please click here

In addition, a significant percentage of students binge drink on a regular basis, and the percentage grows over time from the frosh to senior year. On one hand, we know this occurs in college. On the other hand, all of you are working so hard to grow as individuals and prepare for your future. Consuming four drinks in a sitting for women, and five for men, on a regular basis compromises those efforts and could have long-term impacts.

When people drink heavily, a common concern is hangovers. But when young people in particular drink heavily, they may be harming cognitive abilities in ways that will persist for years. Here are two references on the topic.

1. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

2. Frontiers in Psychology

A more vibrant social scene

Finally, it is no secret that social life on our campus is limited, and this may be contributing to unsafe levels of drinking.  We know that many students seek social activities that don’t involve alcohol, as is evident in the growing popularity of Cardinal Nights’ events. At the same time, I hear many of you when you say there is much more we can do to reinvigorate social life, and I am making this a priority in Student Affairs for collaboration with students.

The last time I wrote to you on this topic, I asked anyone with an interest in helping to create a more vibrant social scene to contact my colleague, Jennifer Calvert (jcalvert@stanford.edu). More than 20 students volunteered, and we recently began a discussion about some exciting, ambitious, yet, in my estimation, eminently realistic options. I am grateful to these students for their leadership, and I will share more on this with you when we have a bit more progress to report.

Join the discussion

On January 7, the provost and I wrote to you about a working group of students, faculty and staff who will study the situation and recommend key steps Stanford could take to advance an evidence-based, public health approach to alcohol use on our campus.  The Alcohol Solutions Group convened for the first time Feb. 20, and will soon seek your input. I hope you will participate.

Reproduction of the 'Additional Alcohol-Related Data' main page, in JPG format.
To download a copy of the full 'Additional Alcohol-Related Data' report in PDF format, pleaseclick here

Thank you for your continued attention to this topic.  It is crucial that diverse student perspectives are brought to bear as we work to create a safer, healthier campus.  I would like to urge you to share your observations, experiences, and ideas with the Alcohol Solutions Group, which will provide specific information on how to join the discussion in the coming weeks.

Sincerely,

Susie Brubaker-Cole
Vice Provost for Student Affairs