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Beer drinking among college freshmen hits 34-year low

By Irene Hsiao
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
January 26, 2000
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Freshmen may be less drunk than ever before - at least according to new research.

Alcohol consumption has decreased among freshmen college students, according to a study by the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California Los Angeles. This year, the annual study shows the lowest level of freshmen beer drinking in the 34-year history of the survey.

Additional findings of the survey were an increase in stress among college freshmen and a high percentage of freshmen who reported being bored in high school.

The number of freshmen who drank beer frequently or occasionally was down to 50 percent in 1999, compared to 75 percent in 1981. Liquor and wine rates were 67 percent in 1987, when the question was first asked, and have now fallen to 54 percent.

Koreen Johannessen, University of Arizona director of health promotion and preventive services, said UA freshmen drinking has dropped by 20 percent in a survey done last year. This figure is based on five or more drinks in the last two weeks in one sitting, she added.

"Drinking has been declining in the last several years, so it would make sense that freshman (percentages) would be going down, too," she said.

The UA does not distinguish between different alcoholic drinks in its surveys, but considers one drink to be 12 ounces of beer, four to five ounces of wine, or one ounce of liquor.

However, some students don't feel that they see less of their peers consuming.

Renae Macke, a psychology freshman, said it's a common practice.

"Considering we live in Tucson, the cheapest thing is to go to a party nearby and drink," she said. "I find it normal."

Matt Wight, a junior majoring in Spanish, doesn't believe less students are drinking.

"I don't think that is, maybe people are just trying to keep it a secret nowadays," Wight said.

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