Friday classes bump back the weekend drinking

Nathalie Tadena

“Thirsty Thursday” is a staple in any college student’s vocabulary.

A recent study from the University of Missouri-Columbia found that students drink more on Thursdays compared to other weekdays. Friday classes also affect how much students drink. Students with Friday morning classes are half as likely to binge drink on Thursdays as students with no or late classes the next day, the report found.

To dissuade students from starting the weekend a day early, the University of Iowa announced in November it would offer financial incentives to departments to teach additional classes on Fridays. Professors will earn $20 for every student enrolled in a Friday morning class.

Northwestern’s Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Mary Desler declined to comment if Northwestern would consider following Iowa’s lead, but numbers provided by the Office of the Registrar show that Friday classes have been at an all-time high this school year.

Overall, 1,302 classes meet on Fridays, including discussion sections. More than a third of NU classes have Friday sessions.

Jackie Murdock, a T.A. in the English department, said she understands students may not be willing to get up early on Friday mornings.

“Different types of students will engage in different social activities that may reflect their work on Fridays,” said Murdock, who leads a discussion section on Friday morning.

Like Iowa and many other universities, NU is faced with a growing incidence of binge drinking – defined as consuming five or more drinks – among students. According to a 2006 NU survey of 312 undergraduates, 51 percent of students reported binge drinking in the two weeks prior to the survey.

Director of NU’s Health Education, Dr. Michele Morales, supports expanding Friday class rosters.

“NU is no better and no worse than other colleges,” Morales said of student drinking habits. “There’s a culture that supports binge drinking among college students; they often feel the expectation to engage in that behavior.”

Students stay away from Friday classes for other reasons as well.

“I try to minimize my classes on Friday in case I want to go home for the weekend,” said SESP sophomore Danielle McLean, who lives in Wisconsin.

However, some staff members and students think offering more Friday classes will only displace students’ drinking habits.

“If you’re going to drink, you’re still going to do it,” said McCormick freshman David Hunt. “This won’t do anything. It only means more binge drinking on Friday nights.”

Busier Friday schedules would impact not only students, but faculty too.

“At the end of the week everyone is at their last strand of energy,” Murdock said. “It’s a burden on professors as well.”

Even if universities encourage students to attend Friday classes, more needs to be done to fully address the incidence of binge drinking, Morales said. She said police tickets and fewer drink specials and advertisements from local bars would also deter student drinking.

“It has to be a coordinated effort on individual and environmental levels,” Morales said.

Reach Nathalie Tadena at [email protected]