When I first started at university, the first thing that I was told was where the UniBar was, what the best drink was and how intoxicated everyone gets during Orientation week. At the time, I didn’t question why drinking was pushed so heavily on me, I just assumed that’s what everyone did, so that’s what I needed to do. But why was I pressured to drink? Why does everyone get so drunk during this week compared to other weeks? Why is there such an expectation? These questions sparked the idea for my research proposal.
For my research proposal I am going to do an analysis on the social pressures and expectations of alcohol consumption, specifically regarding university students. Through this proposal, I aim to discover whether or not students feel a social obligation or pressured to drink alcohol at places such as:
- Social areas e.g UniBar
- University events
Furthermore, I want to understand why students in particular have such an expectation to drink at university, and where this behavior and expectation stems from.
Why Is This Research Important?
This topic in particular needs to be researched now more than ever due to the presence and access to alcohol being virtually everywhere. Furthermore, the stress, anxiety and need for social interaction for individuals to fit in, alcohol is often used as a way to help or is an excuse for students, especially when first transitioning into university life. Finally, this topic is achievable due to alcohol being such a prominent part of university life, (university events e.g ‘Garden Party’, clubbing, UniBar) many students are presented the opportunity to drink on a daily basis, giving my research topic a large audience.
The article ‘Wonderland and the rabbit hole: A commentary on university students’ alcohol use during first year and the early transition to university’ by Riordan, Benjamin reiterates that the first weeks of university are plagued with stress, change and uncertainty. Furthermore, the article also focuses on the need for research on this topic as it states “the first few weeks of the university experience present an important yet understudied opportunity for alcohol misuse prevention.” (Riordan 2018). Additionally, the article focuses specifically on orientation week at various universities, stating that during this time student’s have a heavily increased rate of drinking alcohol, between 14-26 drinks across the week) which is a significant increase from their drinking habits prior to university (Riordan 2018).
Roberson, Anjela’s article ‘Peer, social media, and alcohol marketing influences on college student drinking’ investigates the pressure that peers put on student’s in regards to alcohol consumption. For her research, she interviewed 682 college students, aged 18-22. Her research led her to discover that many students were likely to offer and encourage drinking more than any other demographic due to it becoming a norm within university life (Roberson 2017). The study also delved into the relationship between alcohol and social media and how this can further influence students. It was found that many students, specifically men post pictures of themselves consuming alcohol and displaying drunken behavior and the response to these posts were generally well received (Roberson 2017). To further build on the previous article by Riordan, Roberson’s article states that “Another study found that first-year college students’ exposure to alcohol-related content via social media during the first six weeks of college predicted drinking six months later, even after accounting for current alcohol use and alcohol use by close friends.” (Roberson, 2017, n.p.)
Both these articles show that university students are more likely to consume alcohol because of peer or social pressure out of any demographic. The stress and confusion of the first weeks and the expectations of orientation week sway students to drink alcohol out of a social expectation, whether needed or not. Additionally, due the our generation having access to social media, the presence of alcohol in media is more abundant than ever.
Riordan, Benjamin C., and Kate B. Carey. “Wonderland and the Rabbit Hole: A Commentary on University Students’ Alcohol Use during First Year and the Early Transition to University.” Drug and Alcohol Review
38, no. 1 (2019): 34–41. https://doi.org/10.1111/dar.12877
viewed 22 March 2019
Roberson, Angela A., Cliff McKinney, Courtney Walker, and Ashley Coleman. “Peer, Social Media, and Alcohol Marketing Influences on College Student Drinking.” Journal of American College Health
66, no. 5 (July 4, 2018): 369–79. https://doi.org/10.1080/07448481.2018.1431903
viewed 22 March 2019