Published Tuesday, August 27, 2019 1:11PM EDT
Reka Rossignol remembers feeling a mix of frustration and fear while trying to get an incoherent friend back to their dorm after a night of drinking during their first year in university.
Campus security at the school in northern Ontario had just informed them that a bear had been spotted nearby and ordered everyone inside. Rossignol asked for help getting home but was told all security could do was call an ambulance for the young woman who was having trouble staying upright — something neither of the two students wanted.
The pair somehow struggled to their beds but, four years later, the memory of the night has stayed with Rossignol.
Binge drinking at the off-campus party like the one they were at was rampant, pressure to get drunk in the first place was high, and support for those who had too much was hard to come by, said the 23-year-old, who uses gender neutral pronouns.
“Everyone was partying on the weekends and everyone was binge drinking,” they said.
“There’s a lot of this toxic kind of culture of having to prove yourself. People want you to prove yourself as being a partier or being a big drinker and the more booze you can take the cooler you are.”
Research suggests binge drinking among youth, and women in particular, may be on the rise, with a recent study indicating a spike in emergency room visits related to alcohol issues by those groups.
Several universities are tackling the issue by reconsidering how they run their orientation week activities, placing harm reduction and an emphasis on students educating students about the risks of binge drinking at the centre of their initiatives.
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