Colleges hope more homework means less drinking

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Professors at Ithaca College assign more homework on heavy-drinking weekends. Photo by Elise Krivit/ elise.krivit@mu.edu

College administrators are trying a new tactic to curb student binge drinking behaviors: more homework over the weekend.

The Ithaca College Counseling Center in Ithaca, New York urged faculty of Ithaca College to alter course schedules so more work would be due the week after the Cortaca Jug football game, a traditionally high-risk event for drinking. The game, called the “biggest little game in the nation” by Sports Illustrated, is played between Ithaca and the State University of New York at Cortland annually.

The center sent out an email to professors that said: “prevention researchers tell us that one effective strategy for reducing high risk drinking is to keep academic rigor consistently high throughout the year.”

The message also told professors to emphasize school spirit rather than drinking at school athletic events, instructing faculty to not say things like “Don’t drink too much this weekend!” or “Don’t go too crazy!” as it may reinforce the heavy drinking culture linked with events like the game.

Aaron Edwards, a senior at Ithaca College, said the drinking culture surrounding the game last weekend stayed the same, although a dialogue began on campus about drinking.

Edwards said it is hard to determine the effect the email had on courses but that it did not appear to be widespread.

“It is a personal choice to drink and students who wanted to drink went ahead and drank,” he said.

Marquette students agreed that students who want to drink would do so regardless of academics.

Janel Wasisco, a sophomore in the College of Arts & Sciences, said the amount of time students spend drinking depends on how dedicated they are to their studies.

“If you normally go out, you will still go out even if you have a large workload,” Wasisco said.  “Students who are dedicated to their studies will stay in.”

David Kuester, junior in the College of Arts & Sciences, said he gets his homework done during the day in order to go out at night.

“I wouldn’t be able to get work done after eight or nine on a Saturday night so going to the library would just be a waste of time,” he said.

Sara Johnson, coordinator of alcohol programs for the Office of Student Development, said she has never heard of schools assigning more homework over a particular weekend in order to curb high-risk drinking behaviors.

Johnson said she would not tell instructors to assign more work, but rather to continually keep academic standards high.

“Students are supposed to be studying three hours for every one hour of class,” Johnson said. “Although this isn’t being seen (nationally).”

Johnson said recent data has shown disproportionate amounts of time are being spent on extracurricular activities, but Marquette does not instruct professors to assign homework to combat student drinking. Instead, the university chooses to focus on curbing excessive drinking on regular weekends as well as other periods during the school year.

“Generally, before and after break periods we see more issues arise from drinking because students have less commitments,” Johnson said.

She said although Marquette does not have an athletic program as large as other Division I schools and no football team, there is an increased number of alcohol related incidents surrounding evening sporting events.

According to Marquette’s 2010-11 AlcoholEdu for College survey, the top reason students say they drink is “to celebrate.”

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