In my Japanese classes at University, we often will have speaking practice sessions over Skype video-chat with students from our Sister-Universties in Japan. I was once asked by a Japanese student in one of these exchanges, “What is your favourite place to go on the University campus?”. My reply was, of course, the Unibar. However, my call partner was shocked by my answer; “You have a bar on campus!?”.
I hadn’t previously considered the normalisation of bars on campus in Australian Universities, and how it could be unusual in other countries like Japan. It had me wondering why it is the case in this country; it could be assumed that, like many other countries where on-campus bars are common, our legal drinking age (18 years) is in alignment with what is usually the age of students entering University. But in thinking more critically; I wonder if perhaps the nationwide familiarity of licensed, on-campus facilities could be because of Australia’s deep-rooted cultural norms surrounding alcohol consumption and binge-drinking activities (especially among young people and University students).
So, for my research task about the student experience at University, I decided to look into the drinking habits of students at the University of Wollongong, with a specific scope on the O-Week events and the Unibar on-campus. In particular I would like to know how often and why students choose to drink alcohol in a University setting, and if they do, what quantities of alcohol they are regularly consuming. I’m expecting many answers relating to stress-relief and social drinking, and hope to unpack any issues or problems that may occur from these habits. I believe this research topic is relevant in understanding the impulsive or sensation-seeking behaviours commonly found in Australian University students that participate in regular heavy drinking. Usually students who frequently drink will describe their motivation as either enhancing social experiences, or coping with outward pressure, stress, and social situations. It is crucial to determine whether or not these motives encourage safe and responsible practices in response to internal/external problems, or create an unhealthy dependency on what can be a harmful substance in large quantities. I’m hoping to collect many different opinions about alcohol consumption in a University setting from a variety of students, with both pros and cons relating to frequently, occasionally, or completely abstaining from consuming alcohol. Social and academic impacts stand out as two categories most relevant to the student experience.
Loxton, N., Bunker, R., Dingle, G. and Wong, V. (2015). Drinking not thinking: A prospective study of personality traits and drinking motives on alcohol consumption across the first year of university. Personality and Individual Differences, 79, pp.134-139. [Accessed 23 Mar. 2019, via Google Scholar].