Underage drinking can be difficult to stop or even monitor on a campus as large as Michigan State University. Not only do students drink in the open at fraternity and sorority parties, they also drink behind closed doors in the dorms. As the resident assistant for Bailey Hall, Ben Bailey is responsible for reporting any student he sees drinking. But his job can be more difficult than it sounds.

“On the weekends you can usually see drunk residents more than them actually drinking. People don’t usually walk around with open bottles of beer in the hallways,” Bailey said.

Binge drinking is approximately five drinks in two hours for men or four drinks in two hours for women. One drink is equal to 12 ounces of beer, five ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits, according to the University Physician’s Office.

 binge drinking bar chart

The drinking problem is usually at its worst when freshmen first come to Michigan State, according to Bailey. Excessive drinking can impair classroom performance, which he said is one of the main reasons freshmen slow down their drinking after the first few months.

“Usually after the first semester of their freshman year they curb their drinking more going into their second semester and even more so into their sophomore year,” Bailey said.

About 24 percent of Americans between ages 12-20 report alcohol consumption, according to a 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The MSU Campus Police website said there were 577 reported liquor violations in 2012. Jalen Smith, a freshman at MSU, said if punishments do not stop the students from drinking and resident assistants have their hands tied when the students are behind closed doors, then something drastic would be needed.

“The only way to stop kids from drinking in the dorms would be to have police securing the dorms at all times, but that’s a little extreme when there’s more serious issues at hand in the world,” Smith said.

MSU has set up a website designed to help students who think they might have a drinking problem. Run from the University Physician’s Office, the website, called “Thinking About Drinking”, has resources that students can use to get help for their problem as well as answers to common questions about drinking. 

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