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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

A value-based question

<n “Do Carls drink too much?” is value-based, and answers will vary depending on a person’s experiences. The Student Wellness Advocates would like to approach the question using data that the Office of Health Promotion collected during the fall of 2015 and fall of 2016. Incoming first year students (classes of 2019 and 2020) completed surveys to determine their drinking habits before attending Carleton and after 45 days of college.

While we are only sharing data from two classes, these data are significant as they are representative of half of Carleton’s student body. The Office of Health Promotion is continuing to collect these data on an annual basis, so in future years we will have a more complete picture of drinking trends on campus.

Before attending Carleton, 8% of surveyed students in the Class of 2019 were classified as high-risk drinkers (heavy episodic and problematic), while 45 days later, 35% of students fell into this category. That’s a 338% increase in the number of students engaged in high-risk drinking during their first 45 days at Carleton. This is 5 times the national average, a 67% increase during the first 45 days of college (national data based on a survey of 318,000 college students).

For the Class of 2020, 14% of surveyed students were high-risk drinkers before coming to Carleton. 45 days later 29% of surveyed students were high-risk drinkers. The rate of increase is 200%, 3 times the 2015 national average (national data for the class of 2020 is not yet available).
In a lot of ways, Carleton is like any other institution. While the rate of increase of first-year high-risk drinkers is far greater at Carleton, across all class years, Carleton has comparable rates of high-risk drinking (38.5% of Carleton students in 2015 compared to 32.6% of students nationally in 2016).

Again, while the question, “Do Carls drink too much?” is value-loaded, what the data do tell us is that Carleton students start to drink heavily at Carleton. We wish that all students who choose to drink did so in a responsible and healthy way. However, our data indicate that a significant number of students drink in high-risk ways, and did not do that before coming to Carleton. This suggests to us that Carleton’s culture does promote high-risk drinking in a way that is notable and important. Please reach out to the SWAs or stop by the basement of Laird if you are interested in hearing more about the data and continuing this dialogue.

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