With summer nearing its end, a new herd of college freshmen will arrive on campus this fall. Many of those students will be away from home and confronted with alcohol for the first time.
In 2010, The National Resource Center found a rise in alcohol consumption among first-year college students. The Pew Research Center also found that 48 percent of students drinking in college are underage.
Jack Fahey, Youngstown State University's vice president of student affairs, said he doesn't think YSU is a "huge party school," but believes its important to educate students on the use of alcohol.
“With movies and television, a lot of people think that if they’re not getting trashed, and having crazy spring breaks, that there must be something wrong with them because ‘that’s the way the world is,’ but in reality that’s not the way the world is.”
— Jack Fahey, Youngstown State University’s
vice president of student affairs
"A lot of 18- and 19-year-olds are on their own for the first time. You want to do the best you can to help them understand that with freedom comes responsibility," Fahey said. "We want students to keep their eyes on the prize. After you've taken care of business - then go and have some fun."
Fahey said "not much has changed" with YSU's drinking policy since 2011 when the fatal shooting at an off-campus fraternity house claimed the life of Jamail Johnson and injured 11 others. Johnson, 25, was a YSU student and member of the Zeta Gamma chapter of Omega Psi Phi.
David Masek, YSU senior and president of Alpha Phi Delta, disagreed, saying the rules from the Interfraternity Council have been "a lot more strict" toward parties at fraternity houses since the shooting.
"Before, the rules were much more lenient towards parties. Now, we have to hire two police officers for each party. We haven't had an incident since," he said.
However, Masek said fraternities do more than just drink and throw parties. The "close-knit" groups of students are heavily involved in class, community service, singing and float building competitions, hosting 5K races, and intermural sport teams.
Fahey said students might overestimate how much drinking is actually going on at their respective campus. One major focus of alcohol awareness is teaching students the term "social norming."
"With movies and television, a lot of people think that if they're not getting trashed, and having crazy spring breaks, that there must be something wrong with them because 'that's the way the world is,' but in reality that's not the way the world is," he said.
Masek agreed with Fahey by saying his fraternity is nothing like the one portrayed in the film "Animal House." He said the Greek GPA is higher than the entire student body average at YSU and most schools across the nation.
Whether or not students have pledged, most colleges offer a variety of alcohol awareness events to help students focus on their education.
Fahey said that if alcohol education is made fun, students will pay attention. He said one of the most popular events on campus is when the state police bring "beer-goggles" to campus.
"They're glasses that warp your perception,"?Fahey said. "Police will have people walking around cones with them on. Some years they've even had campus leaders drink one beer to do mental and coordination tests. Then they'll have two beers, then they'll have three beers. People are watching and they're learning what the effects are."
According to the Clery Act's Annual Campus, Safety, and Fire Report data, there were 25 liquor law violations at YSU in 2011, resulting in arrests or disciplinary/judicial referrals. By comparison, Kent State University reported 356, Bowling Green University reported 243, the University of Akron reported 316, and Ohio State University reported 1,995 liquor law violations in 2011.
Joy Polkabla-Byers, YSU director of campus recreation and student programming, advises parents to encourage their students to get involved on campus. Polkabla-Byers said this keeps students out of trouble and helps manage their stress.
"By joining student organizations, using recreational facilities and getting jobs on campus, students will feel connected to the institution. Students should plan around their class schedule to spend time at Recreation and Wellness Center. This helps manage stress and they can meet others with similar interests," she said.
"Sometimes students aren't playing the sport they played in high school and struggle without the competition. Now they have the option to join intermural sports. It's not on that high level of competition but its encouraging to find activities you enjoy," she said.
Polkabla-Byers also said that healthy choices are ultimately up to each student and that the tools will be on campus to take advantage of.
"Sometimes students just need to talk it through to put things in front of them. We want them to develop healthy lifestyles so when they leave campus, its something that stays with them," she said.