A new college poll reveals what is common knowledge on campuses: alcohol use and sexual assaults are linked. Heavy alcohol intake is a prime factor in sexual violence, students assert.
University and college campuses across the USA are struggling with an intoxicating alcohol culture, and an alcohol norm that makes alcohol widely available and glamorises its use. The consequences of all that alcohol are an increased risk of sexual violence, according to a Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll that provides new evidence of the link between intoxication and sexual assault.
Heavy alcohol use is one of the best predictors of sexual assault in college. Analysis of the results found that women who say they sometimes or often consume more alcohol than they should, are twice as likely to be victims of completed, attempted, or suspected sexual assaults as those who only sporadically or never use alcohol. Several male victims also pointed to alcohol’s role in their assaults.
In fact, alcohol is the number one date-rape drug in the United States.
In student life alcohol is widely present, along with myths perpetuated by the alcohol industry and their aggressive marketing: Despite a legal age for alcohol use of 21, students often claim “alcohol lubricates university social life”. For students alcohol is used as ‘‘liquid courage’’ that drops inhibitions and makes it easier to meet people, including those who might be interested in hooking up — the ubiquitous term for casual sexual encounters.
‘‘There is this idea in our college culture that alcohol and sex should always be available,’’ said Kyra Stephenson, an anti-sexual-violence activist who graduated from Michigan State last month.
‘‘The whole context around alcohol is this is something we do to facilitate sex.’’
The poll questioned 1,053 current and recent college students and found that almost 40% of students occasionally or frequently use more alcohol in hazardous and harmful ways.