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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

I’m writing in response to the Jan. 5 article published in the Alligator called, “Binge Drinking Game: Syllabus week edition.” I am a health-promotion specialist at GatorWell. It is disappointing a story would be published the first week of Spring classes focused on encouraging unsafe and unhealthy behaviors among the Gator Nation. While I acknowledge freedom of the press and the Alligator’s right to write and publish stories as they choose, encouraging students — especially those underage — not only to drink alcohol to excess, but to do so to the detriment of their academic success is irresponsible and dangerous.

High-risk drinking (binge drinking) is a serious public-health issue that most universities across the country face. Unsafe drinking leads to myriad negative consequences such as physical assault, sexual assault, vandalism and public property damage, unprotected sex — which can lead to sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy — and alcohol poisoning — which, left untreated, can result in death. Numerous research studies have found an association or correlation between alcohol and GPA: The larger amounts of alcohol consumed, the lower the GPA. It is also worth mentioning that although many students believe high-risk drinking is only a phase in their college career, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism estimates 20 percent of college students nationwide meet the criteria for an alcohol-use disorder. Although this article may have been intended to be a light-hearted start to the semester, high-risk drinking and addiction are not jokes.

All of the GatorWell staff educate and advocate to the UF community that students

who take care of themselves and focus on their health and well-being inevitably are more likely to succeed, not only in class, but in life. Alcohol, despite what the article surmises, is not “a token remedy for those first tedious days.” Rather, starting the semester with plenty of sleep and a proactive strategy for managing your syllabus is a much better way to go.

Alicia Baker is a UF GatorWell health-promotion specialist.

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