Night out: Has ”uni culture” changed?

Finally Monday-Friday, time to head out. Drink, drink, shot, drink, shot, and another shot. The party never ends at university. Or does it? Perhaps the question is, has it already ended for some? 

In 2019 the millennials are beginning to filter out from universities and in their place are a new batch of young people labeled as the Generation Z. This demographic cohort follows right after the Millennials with starting birth years around the mid 1990’s to the 2000s, and in fact, the first individuals from this generation graduated from university last year. Generation Z differs from other age groups in the past because they are the first generation to have grown up with mobile phones, media, and following shortly, social media. The technological revolution which the cohort has grown up in also gives them a second name; the iGen. Now that this generation is beginning to enter adulthood, a lot of research is being dedicated to analyse attitudes and discover behavioural differences from other generations in the past. Looking at university life, astounding results have been brought about concerning students and the party scene in particular. 

Statistically, it has been discovered that the iGen spend less time at parties than any other generation in the last century. This of course, is an average and doesn’t apply to individual students, but nonetheless, is an important finding when looking at the impact of a lifelong, thus far, exposure to social media. The implication of today’s technology and media is that it provides everyone who makes the purchase with an endless array of entertainment wherever they are and whenever they want. Media, and social media especially, has so much to offer in terms of content that it, to some degree, takes away the need to go out and socialise. If someone chooses to stay at home it no longer means that they are losing contact with their friends because of how easy it is to communicate over text, group chats, and other online forums. Not only is the opportunity to ‘socialise’ online given, but it is also often seen as more convenient than meeting up in person because it can be carried out from home, in bed, while multitasking, without the same effort of being focused and commitment of keeping up a conversation that isn’t appealing. 

Besides social media another factor at play in the decreasing party scene may be a rising career-focus amongst students. Competition for employment has increased drastically in the past years as numbers of experts and the percentage of university graduates rise. Getting into universities is increasingly difficult, not to mention getting a job after it. The prospect of unemployment places further pressure on students to perform and get involved in educational and career building activities to amp up their CVs instead of ‘wasting’ a night, and the following morning perhaps, partying. 

Saying all of this, large numbers of students do still engage themselves in nights out and see this form of socialising as a priority to be fit into their weekly schedules. What’s interesting though, is the extreme spectrum that students fall into in regards to nights out. The demographic as a whole seems more split than ever before, where there are an increasing number of individuals who avoid alcohol altogether, instead indulging in non-alcoholic beverages (for which there is a rapidly expanding market), opposed to a large number of students who essentially only ‘drink to get drunk’. Binge drinking is huge among the going out groups to the extent where people view heavy episodic drinking as normative in the student party scene, as well as the key to a good time. Many students themselves appear to perceive their bodies as ‘indestructible’ not thinking or caring about the consequences of this kind of drinking pattern, such as alcohol poisoning or ‘blackouts’. 

Drinking games especially encourage episodic drinking and ‘pre-drinks’ are the current hot forum for them. ‘Pre’s’ involves drinking before moving onwards with the night and can become very dangerous as people tend to get very intoxicated early on and only continue to drink more throughout the night at pubs, or far more commonly, nightclubs. Sometimes groups even decide to have after’s, where the drinking is kept up when they get home. 

At university, the societies, stereotypically the sports teams, are specifically renowned for their encouragement of heavy drinking at socials, not to mention where pub crawls, flat crawls, pub quizzes, and club nights come in as a typical way to spend the evening. In the past and still today, initiations are the biggest and craziest events of the year for the clubs. These big gatherings usually revolve around the heads or committee members of a society welcoming new members of the team or group by setting them up for a series of challenges throughout the night that pretty much always involving heavy drinking and ending with a majority of the participants very drunk at best, debauched and passed out at worst. Similar events are associated with the legendary fraternity culture in US Universities and are perhaps the most conventional image of what the partying life at university should be, although this article has established that it isn’t always the case when it comes to the newer generations of the 21st century .

Image Credit: Jirka Matousek via Flickr

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