Date of Award

Spring 2020

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Alyson Spurgas


Are most students 8 times worse than the average “problem” drinker or does this definition instead reflect the students’ collective definition of normal use? Research on substance use has been limited to “problem” behavior, with little research published on normal use. The “5/4 rule”, heavily employed by college campuses, was produced under a problem-oriented approach to substance use that often individualizes the collective experience of binge-drinking through a strictly physiological lens. This definition and its engendered concerns will likely prove remote or extraneous to students when situated within their own lives (in the college setting, and more specifically, Trinity College), ultimately leading students to discount them and continue working within the collective definitions of substance use that their culture actively produces and reproduces. Discussions on binge-drinking must work both outside and through the associated risks of “binge-drinking”, acknowledging students’ use of positive reframing and reflected appraisals to actively and collectively confirm these costs to be worthwhile for the emotional or social benefits. “Binge-drinking” cannot simply be recognized as a feature of campus culture, but as the product of a profoundly alienating one, made strikingly evident by our creation of a separate world (“drunk world”). We have created a small world of impossible possibles that exists in the corners of the actual; a separate world, in which the imagining of the self, other, and the world, is not only permissible but promoted. At the heart of college students’ “partying hard” is a longing, hope, and dogged determination that the liberating and unifying aspects of this world can overwhelm the actual...and in the meantime we are just glad it helps us endure it.


Senior thesis completed at Trinity College, Hartford CT for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Sociology.