Nearly 17% of Female University Of Michigan Students Choose To Stay Sober

By Britni de la Cretaz 12/05/16

Alcohol is one of the biggest predictors of sexual assault in college; intoxication makes people more vulnerable to predatory assaults.

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Health Survey Graphic
Courtesy of via Michigan Daily

Despite stereotypes, it turns out that not all college students drink to excess. Many women on University of Michigan’s campus are staying sober by choice, a recent women’s health survey by The Michigan Daily found.

The results, which surveyed 1,000 randomly selected students, found that 16.52% of respondents said they never drink, while 33.91% said they drink weekly, and 19.13% drink twice weekly. Other results included 21.74% who said they rarely drink and 1.74% who said they drink every day.

Poll courtesy of Michigan Daily  Designer: Katie Beukema

And while a 2013 study from Harvard Medical School found that women are binge drinking more than their male peers, University of Michigan students such as Vianney Flores are bucking the trend. Flores told Michigan Daily that she just doesn’t like drinking. Her reasons for not drinking included being “influenced by her parents’ desire for her safety, news stories about sexual assault, the negative health effects and a genuine aversion to the taste.” Other students said their reasons for not drinking included religious beliefs and family experiences with alcoholism.

News stories about sexual assault include reports on data like this poll by the Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation which found alcohol was one of the biggest predictors of sexual assault in college, and reported that “women who say they sometimes or often drink more than they should are twice as likely to be victims of completed, attempted or suspected sexual assaults as those who rarely or never drink.”

Sexual assault is listed by the CDC as one of the negative health effects for women of excessive drinking, along with reproductive health issues, liver problems, and memory loss. The sexual assault risk does not mean that women who are drinking when they are victimized are to blame, however; their intoxication makes them more vulnerable to predatory assailants who are looking to take advantage of someone.

There is a wide range of students who choose not to drink because of their religious beliefs, including Muslim, Mormon, and even Christian students. Alexis Babbitt, a Christian, told Michigan Daily, “God tells me to follow the law and the law is to not drink under 21 and I am under 21 so I don’t drink,” while Gabrielle de Coster said, “I don’t feel that I am serving God to the best of my ability or spreading light in any way if my awareness of myself or surroundings is deluded by any substance.”

Still other students may not drink because their alcoholism reared its head early in their lives. Beth Leipholtz, a contributor to The Fix, wrote for Cosmopolitan about getting sober while still in college. She writes, “I have never regretted accepting the fact that I was a 20-year-old alcoholic. There have been moments of frustration, moments when I wish I could be like others my age, with a healthy relationship with alcohol. But in those instances, I've had to remind myself that I chose to stop drinking because my life is entirely better without alcohol.”

And, as indicated by this survey of University of Michigan students, Leipholtz was far from the only non-drinker on campus.

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Britni de la Cretaz is a freelance writer, baseball enthusiast, and recovered alcoholic living in Boston. Follow her on Twitter at @britnidlc.

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