Posted on Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Canadian Press

This story ran in the Grande Prairie Daily Herald-Tribune, Grande Prairie, Alberta. A shorter version of the story, titled "Students not Souses," also ran in the Kenora Daily Miner & News, Kenora, Ontario, Canada.

The binge alcohol consumption depicted in movies such as Animal House and Old School does not accurately reflect student drinking patterns, according to a study released Monday.

A study into post-secondary student drinking in Canada released by the Student Life Education Company suggests 63 per cent of students drink just twice a month, or less.

But students believe their peers drink much more - at least once a week - the survey shows.

The study was conducted by the Centre for Social Norms and Research, a branch of the company that is financially supported by an operating grant from the Brewers Association of Canada.

"When students misperceive an exaggerated amount of alcohol as typically consumed by their peers or when they perceive their peers are not drinking responsibly . . . they are at greater risk of increasing their own alcohol intake," Dr. Wesley Perkins, the lead researcher of the study, said told a news conference.

"Conversely, by promoting the truth about student drinking, those students who do engage in unsafe or irresponsible drinking will see that their behaviour is outside the norm and will be more constrained by peer influence."

But what about the media representation of student drinking? Are the keg parties, shot drinking contests, and outrageous drunken behaviour in movies and television just a myth?

The finding that students drink just twice a month "does seem slightly on the low side," said Alexandra Dodger of the Ontario Federation of Students.

Most students, 64 per cent, consumed one to four drinks at parties or bars, the survey found. But 67 per cent believed their counterparts have at least five drinks when they go out.

Student unions at Carleton University and the University of Ottawa recently turned campus bars into cafes, citing the fact that a large percentage of their students can't access the bars because they are underage.

More than 5,000 students at 10 universities and colleges in seven provinces were polled for the survey.



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