Cinco de Mayo is often used by those without Mexican heritage as an excuse to drink excessively, according to Cross Cultural Centers coordinator Tammie Velasquez. | File Photo/Mustang News

Erin Abzug

As college brings students an education, a new environment and a new social circle, it also brings students exposure to more alcohol. Alcohol has always been a concern on college campuses, but getting drunk on the weekends might not truly be everyone’s first choice of an activity, even though it may seem so.

Soar and Week of Welcome team member Katie Marchant indicated that students do not drink more than one would think.

Thoughtful Life Choices counselor from Cal Poly’s Health and Counseling Services Patrick Fitzsimmons said the main misconception about alcohol is that people think a lot more people are drinking than actually are.

In an online survey provided by the Health and Counseling Center, students are asked how many students they think consume two or more shots in a night. Students believe that about 75 percent of students will consume two shots or more in a night, however, this is not the case, according to Fitzsimmons.

College students already have a preconceived notion about the amount of people they think do drink and of the pressures to partake in drinking. English sophomore Mitch Cooledge said he feels people will come to enjoy drinking, but do not enjoy it initially. There is a lot of pressure for people to drink, according to Cooledge.

Fitzsimmons indicated that a main motivation for drinking is social pressure. Marchant also concluded that peer pressure is the main reason freshmen begin to drink.

“People want to fit in,” Marchant said. “If you don’t know what else there is to do, then you want to (drink) too. People want to make new friends and impress people.”

As college students, creating strong social ties can be challenging and take awhile. Unfortunately, it seems alcohol is what some students are using to break the tension and get to know people.

“Depression can be caused from not wanting to do what everyone else is doing,” Marchant said. “Transfer students get really worked up about that.”

If most students are not setting out to drink, but are only doing so because that is what they feel others are expecting, it seems this peer pressure is feeding itself, Marchant said.

“It’s a cycle,” Marchant said.

Environmental management and protection senior Bridget Lillis said drinking is how students get to know people as a freshman, and being a freshman, there is a lot more pressure to binge drink.

However, now being of age, Lillis’ experiences of drinking has shifted.

“Now you don’t necessarily drink as much because, being 21, it is more available to you,” Lillis said. “It is way more of a social thing now. It’s more fun because it’s not like, ‘Lets go get wasted.’ It’s, ‘Let’s go get a drink.’”

As students get older, they become more comfortable with themselves and secure with having made friends. Being of age also gives students more control and more of a choice as to when and how much they drink, Lillis said.

“People respect people that don’t drink,” Marchant said.

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