Blog: The Educated Reporter

Follow-Up Friday: When Colleges Are Fueled By ‘River of Booze’

We had an opportunity to chat with Chronicle of Higher Education reporters Eric Hoover and Karin Fischer about “A River of Booze” – their remarkablely close look at the drinking culture at the University of Georgia. The conversation is the latest episode of the EWA Radio podcast. 

During the discussion — with my co-host and EWA colleague Mikhail Zinshteyn — we asked if the reporters had encountered anything that surprised them during their time in Athens, Georgia. One stunning detail: Some students left parties at the end of the night and were still intoxicated enough to be arrested for driving drunk on their way to class the next morning. 

Their deeply reported piece is part of an impressive series by CHE on booze and campus culture, which includes an analysis of why years of close attention by colleges hasn’t reduced binge drinking.

The series also includes an opinion piece by Kevin Carey, who makes a powerful argument that if college students were busier with more fruitful pursuits, they wouldn’t have time for excessive drinking. Carey, New America’s education policy director, lambastes Hollywood’s glorification of alcohol-fueled campus hijinks (while wisely pointing out that movies aren’t the central problem):

“Studies have found that today’s full-time undergraduates are spending fewer hours on academic work in exchange for better grades than in previous generations. Substance abuse can be a product of aimlessness and boredom, something to do to fill the time.

In the long run, the most effective alcohol-abuse- prevention policy is to be a better college: a place where students are continually challenged, provoked, and engaged by the difficult work of learning.”

You can catch up with past episodes of EWA Radio here. Coming up next: A conversation with Bruce Shapiro of the Dart Center on Journalism & Trauma about the fallout from the discrediting of a Rolling Stone  story about an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia.