The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Friday February 26th

Freshmen abstaining from alcohol, study ?nds

Due to a reporting error, the story “Freshmen abstaining from alcohol, study finds” incorrectly stated the organizational status of Outside the Classroom. It’s not a nonprofit. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for the error.

The Friday night keg party might not be the destination of choice for as many freshmen as before, according to a recent study.

Outside the Classroom, an organization focused on tackling high-risk drinking, found the percentage of freshmen abstaining from alcohol increased from 38 percent to 62 percent since 2006.

The organization conducted a survey of more than half a million high school seniors nationwide who were required to participate in online alcohol education programs through their future universities.

The survey was confidential, said Brandon Busteed, the organization’s founder and CEO.

The students were asked whether they had consumed an alcoholic beverage in the past two weeks, in the past 30 days, or in the past year.

“When you see students reporting no alcohol in the past two weeks, there’s several of them you can say are truly abstainers — like they don’t drink at all — and the rest of them you can say are light drinkers at best, or might have drank heavily once in the past year,” he said.

UNC Assistant Dean of Students Dean Blackburn found these results to be in agreement with the University’s findings.

UNC requires all incoming freshmen to take an online alcohol education program through mystudentbody.com, as well as a national survey through the Cooperative Institutional Research Program, Blackburn said.

College drinking has been measured for the past 30 years and there has been limited change until now, Busteed said.

Although he said he was cautious to attribute the statistics to any one factor, he said the ailing economy might have played a role.

“Between the students having to pay more and parents making a bigger sacrifice, there’s a lot of reason to believe these students are saying, ‘Look, I’ve got this opportunity, I can’t afford to piss it away, literally.”

Blackburn also credited some of the decrease in alcohol consumption to better education about high-risk drinking.

He said UNC has made an effort to inform students of the legal and academic consequences of alcohol use at freshman orientation.

Caitlyn Dixon, a freshman biochemistry major, said that although her close friends, who abstained in high school, have begun to use alcohol, they recognize there are powerful incentives not to partake.

“The economy has a big effect, it is expensive to drink, and local authorities have began to crack down.”

Contact the State & National Editor at state@dailytarheel.com.

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