- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 9, 2002

Frequent binge drinking has more than doubled on all-women college campuses in the past decade, a recent alcohol-consumption study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health shows.
Between 1993 and last year, all-women colleges saw a 124 percent increase in frequent binge drinking from 5 percent in 1993 to 12 percent last year. Such drinking is having four drinks in a row at least three times in the previous two weeks.
"This is further proof that no place is isolated anymore," said Henry Wechsler, director of the College Alcohol Studies at Harvard University's School of Public Health, which conducted the study. "Our previous studies have found that attending college at an all-women school was very protective. That seems to be less so now."
The number of teetotalers declined by 20 percent at the schools, where binge drinking having four or more drinks in the previous two weeks increased from 24 percent in 1993 to 32 percent last year.
Abstention increased 11 percent among women at co-ed schools, the study showed.
Mr. Wechsler said women who drink heavily are putting themselves at greater risk for unplanned pregnancies or sexual assault.
He said that, among the women who drank, there was a 150 percent jump in unplanned sexual activities, date rape and sexual assault.
The study surveyed more than 10,000 full-time students at 119 colleges in 38 states and the District of Columbia. Five of the 119 are all-women schools. The names of the colleges and universities surveyed were not disclosed.
Mr. Wechsler said the increase could be attributed to the type of women who attend all-women schools today.
He said more women are starting to drink alcohol at an earlier age, and he suggested more may also be feeling pressure to catch up with their male classmates.
"Values have simply changed, and they changed a while ago," Mr. Wechsler said. "The women have definitely caught up with the men in terms of drinking since the 1950s."
Still, women at single-sex schools drink less than those on coed campuses, and both populations drink less than men, the study shows.
The rate of frequent binge-drinking among women who attend coed colleges rose by almost 4 percent since 1993, from 17.4 percent to 21.2 percent. The rate of binge drinking rose 1 percent, from 39.3 percent to 41.2 percent.
Meanwhile, frequent binge drinking among men on college campuses also rose during the past decade, from 22.4 percent in 1993 to 25.2 percent last year, the study shows.
Women's groups such as Concerned Women for America (CWA) and the Independent Women's Forum (IWF) blame the increase on what some members call "a feminist influence" on college campuses.
"College campuses are a hotbed of feminist propaganda, and binge drinking is just one manifestation of it," said Janice Crouse, a senior fellow at Beverly LaHaye Institute, a research arm of the CWA.
Kate Kennedy, IWF's campus projects manager and associate editor of SheThinks.org, thinks the results make sense because drinking has been a common pastime for college students for decades.
"It's almost like a right of passage to adulthood," Miss Kennedy said. "The disturbing part about all of this is that it's starting at an earlier age, that most of these behaviors have been carried over from high school."

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