Friday, December 11, 2015

Research Blog #8: Interview

I interviewed several Rutgers students to gather information as to why they did not attend the Rutgers Responsible Drinking Happy Hour. My original plan was to interview a student on their experiences with attending the event, but I was unable to find anyone who had actually gone. This program is Rutgers' attempt to engage the problem of underage college drinking with social norms theory.

The most prevalent reason as to why students told me that did not attend the responsible drinking event was that it is only open to students age 21 and older. This restriction, while necessary to stay within the bounds of federal law, restricts roughly 75% of the undergraduate student body. Without even being able to go to these events, the responsible drinking program has 0 effect on the younger college students who need them the most.

Another factor in why students over the age of 21 said that they were reluctant to attend was that the environment was uncomfortable. College students, especially younger undergraduates, flock to fraternity parties and house parties like seagulls to your sandwich on the beach. These parties are where these students feel most comfortable drinking, as it provides a space where everyone else around them is either an anonymous face or is participating in drinking in the same way as them. In contrast, the Rutgers Responsible Drinking Happy Hour is filled with professors and other faculty watching the students every move. On top of that, students felt that they were being "babied" by only being restricted to 1 drink per hour, regardless of the person's personal alcohol tolerance.

This interview showed me the full extent of the problems that the Rutgers program presents. To me, it seems as though the program, while well intentioned, serves basically no purpose. The main demographic that should be targeted, mainly freshman/sophomore students, are completely barred from partaking, leaving them to find alcohol elsewhere, mainly in unregulated environments like fraternity parties.

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