Study: Students drinking

A rare phenomenon is about to be studied: student drinking.

A new study about students’ drinking habits is starting on Canadian campuses. Bacchus Canada, an organization devoted to studying drinking and sexual practices of college students, is conducting the study, funded by the Brewers of Canada

Fran Wdowczyk, Executive Director of the Student Life Education Company, Bacchus’ parent company, is excited about the opportunity to bring the study into Canada.

"We went province to province, trying to find a good cross- section of universities and colleges," Wdowczyk said.

The company selected 10 universities across seven provinces, including the University of Alberta.

They’ve been planning for a year, and the study will last two more years. After that, they will release their findings, and a second survey will be performed, with an expected shift in student drinking attitudes.

"We know students make healthy choices already, this will help empower them to continue," Wdowczyk said.

Dr. J.J. Miles, alcohol specialist at University of Calgary Counselling Services, agrees, but with some skepticism. He has worked with alcohol awareness programs since 1980.

"Is there a problem regarding alcohol with universities and colleges in Canada? You betcha," Dr. Miles said.

A creator of the award-winning 1992 student alcohol awareness video Your Choice, Dr. Miles criticizes the study assuming students’ only motivation in their drinking habits is their peer groups, and notes that there are other factors in alcohol choices.

"There is going to be some spectre of bias in a study funded by the brewers," Dr. Miles said.

The Brewers of Canada is a lobby group for major Canadian breweries. Apart from this study, they also fund groups like fetal alcohol syndrome research, and AADAC.

"Most brewers probably do in fact want responsible drinking," Dr. Miles added.

The study is based on social norms theory, which relates the drinking habits of students to how much they think people around them are drinking. The theory was developed and successfully tested in the United States.

"It was initiated by our group to find another way to approach students," Wdowczyk said.

Bacchus has existed since the 1970s, and has many campus chapters teaching students about good drinking habits and drinking safety.

"This is going to be valuable," Miles concluded, noting any information we can get about alcohol awareness is good information.

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