Think Don't Drink

May 09, 2014

Article written for University

Starting University is a big step to take for most people. Not only are you most likely moving away from family and friends but you have to become responsible for yourself. Needless to say, University puts you under a lot of pressure. So why pile more pressure upon yourself? It is no secret that University is home to a lot of peer pressure, especially when it comes to drinking. Peer pressure means that someone of your own age group, perhaps a friend or course mate, pushes you into doing something. Now as 2014 is well underway, the levels of peer pressure that occur, suggest a negative experience at University.

      When you think about taking the University plunge, as a teen, you're are probably drawn to the ideas of the social aspects such as partying or clubbing. And although these aspects are highly important and appealing to a first year student they of course come with a great deal of dangers which sometimes go unrecognised. It is encouraged when starting University to join societies and clubs to help meet others with similar interests. What isn't discussed or spoken of when entering a higher education institution, is the peer pressure amongst these societies. For a lot of societies it is crucially important for your "reputation" if you drink alcohol. Many societies even include initiation tasks for Freshmans or "Freshers" as it's more commonly known in Britain. These initiations can involve anything the society's committee agree on. Whilst some tasks may seem like a bit of fun, some lack safety and are completely careless. Not only are there these initiations but the peer pressure seems to keep coming throughout the year, for example in the some Universities' societies, "Freshers" are not allowed to use the word "drink", and if they do then they have to have a drink. It seems these societies encourage stupid behaviour of these first years as a way of being accepted. This is a disgusting show of behaviour and could easily be seen as bullying, which is something you would think University would be too mature for.

      The outbreak of "Lad Culture" in recent years seems to be highest now in 2014 and seems to be encouraged. Not only is this encouraged by peers but it is influenced by the media. Films such as The Inbetweener's Movie provide an insight into 'lad culture', even if done in a comedic way, it in fact is quite realistic. "Lad culture" has always been around, however it appears more noticeable in today's society due to social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter whereby videos can be uploaded and shared publicly. Over the past few months videos by the name "Neknomination", have taken to social networks, of boys downing pints of unimaginably horrid beverages, and nominating others to do one too. This is a fine example of how "ladness" can lead to peer pressure, as it has recently been announced that as a result of this online phenomenon, several deaths of young males have occurred.

      Whilst peer pressure can be damaging to those surrounding it, it can also effect a wider range of people. Another major issue involving 'lad culture' is the obsession with members of the opposite sex. The NUS has defined "Lad Culture" as:
       "a pack mentality that includes objectifying women. "
In groups of males, to each other, manhood is sometimes measured by "pulling", which is a term for kissing or having intercourse with a female, on a night out. The disrespect it produces for women is quite frankly despicable and revolting. In "Lad culture" women are more often than not referred to as 'pussy' and are idealised as objects rather than people.  Toni Pearce, President of the NUS said,
         “I was absolutely complicit in lad culture when I was at college. Looking back now it looks ridiculous. Pack mentality made me join in with sexist attitudes. Sometimes you can feel you need to make jokes about women in order to be liked."

       It would appear that the issue has stretched further, into influencing women to act in similar ways too. "Ladette Culture" started to appear in the 1990s and has increased ever since, seeing a rise in the amount of alcohol being consumed, being similar to that of men. It is actually having a devastating effect which some may not realise early on. Death rates of women in their thirties and forties has doubled in the past twenty years, due to alcohol related deaths, with limits being breached and their bodies' not being able to cope with the amounts they once drunk. This is not to mention the attitude some women have towards clubbing at University. As a result, it leaves many women feeling embarrassed and exploited after not being able to remember their own night, and having the worry about being taken advantage of sexually. However, the amount of women who seem to enjoy this type of behaviour and have a positive attitude towards sleeping with lots of men is outrageous. Both young women and men, need to have a lot more respect for themselves and others around them. Students need to respect that everyone is different and not everyone will enjoy the same things they do. The lack of respect for women is a huge problem still, however this lack of respect is coming from both genders, as so many young girls do not respect themselves enough. If this is the attitude so many young adults have, what does this mean for the future?

I believe that something has to be done about peer pressure at Universities. Students should not have to feel pressured into doing anything they don't want to. They need to find the right balance between studying and partying, and find their own limits as to their intake of alcohol. Just because someone else can drink eight pints, doesn't mean you or anyone else should have to. Students need to realise that before they could legally drink, they had fun doing other things. The answer to "fun", is not always alcohol. If Universities worked on ways to raise awareness of peer pressure, it might be possible to abolish it. By warning students and helping them deal with the pressures through inductions when first welcomed to the Universities, students might feel more comfortable and confident if they are ever faced with it. Students need to realise that alcohol is not always the only option; their decisions are the ones that matter not peer pressured decisions. If they do, then University will be a much happier, safer place for every student. 

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