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Poor Body Image - A Modern Day Epidemic

At most colleges, many students find the competition outside of the classroom just as challenging as inside the classroom. There is great pressure to look a certain way and body image issues may develop because of these expectations.

Body image is more than just how someone feels about their body. It is a mental representation of how one feels about themselves and is influenced by feelings, behaviors, thoughts, self-esteem, and the world around us. A survey by Psychology Today found that 24% of women would trade three years of their life and 15% would trade five or more years of their life if they could be their ideal weight. This demonstrates what a drastic effect body image and weight can have on a person.

There are numerous factors in how a person feels about their body. Some of these include:

  • Size Prejudice

In American culture there is a great deal of emphasis placed on body weight, size, and appearance. Children are beaten up and ridiculed for being fat. F…

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RU-486: What You Need To Know About Medical Abortions

The choice to have an abortion is never an easy one. Unfortunately, many college women fall into the age group that has the highest abortion rate. A recent survey shows that women aged 20-24 have the highest percentage of abortions in America. While many know about surgical abortions, their knowledge of medical abortions may be scant.

Medical abortions are produced by a medication commonly known as RU486, or Mifepristone. The process of having a medical abortion begins with counseling, a physical exam, and a determination of the length of the pregnancy. At the first visit, an initial dose of mifepristone is taken orally. This drug inhibits endometrial development, and effectively prevents implantation of the embryo. Two days later, a prostaglandin called misoprostol is given. This drug causes the uterus to contract and expel the lining, and with it, the embryo. A third visit to the doctor verifies that the abortion is complete. In the event that it is not complete, a tradit…

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Images of Femininity

For centuries in China, foot binding produced unnaturally small and deformed feet. This was a feminine ideal. In parts of Africa and Asia, neck rings still signify femininity, even though it sometimes renders their wearers crippled and dependent on others. These examples are proof that femininity is defined differently by different cultures.

In Western culture femininity has traditionally included characteristics such as gentleness, patience, kindness, and other nurturing qualities. Traits that are traditionally considered feminine may be categorized into physical differences (narrower shoulders, larger breasts, wider hips, less body hair, etc.); psychological and behavioral differences (a concern for relationships, empathy, sympathy, etc.) and social differences (ornamentation, career choices, leisure pursuits, etc.). It is also important to note that femininity is closely related to “lady-like” behavior. It is not considered feminine to use traditionally masculine body lan…

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What It Means To Be Masculine

When people think about gender, they often think about a continuum with masculinity on one extreme and femininity on the other. Masculinity is a set of characteristics that are associated with maleness while femininity is a set of characteristics that are associated with femaleness. Despite this historical view, little is known about manhood and masculinity. Little research focuses on the male experience. The women’s movement helped make people more gender conscious, but its focus was on women. More recently, gender research has extended to men.

Gender roles are the set of expectations a society has about males and females. These include expectations about appearance, personality traits, emotions, interests, abilities, and occupations. In Western societies, men are generally expected to be stoic and less emotional than women. Women are expected to be more nurturing and less aggressive than men. Men are often assumed to be financially responsible for their families, whereas w…

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Drug Testing - Does It Deter Drug Use?

There is a chance that when you graduate and go out into the working world, you will be required to take a drug test. Testing employees or job candidates for drug use is perfectly legal. It is illegal to fire an employee or reject an applicant for discriminatory reasons, like race, age, or gender, but singling someone out because of drug use is not a discriminatory act.

The main reason for the increase in drug testing is one of basic economics. Drug use and abuse is a problem too expensive to ignore. The government estimates that companies lose $82 billion in productivity each year because of substance abuse. More than three-quarters of the estimated 15 million drug users in the United States have jobs. A typical “recreational” drug user in today’s workforce is 2.2 times more likely to request time off; 2.5 times more likely to have absences of eight days or more; three times more likely to be late for work; 3.6 times more likely to be injured or to cause injury; five times…

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Animal Testing - Is It Necessary?

If your dog got sick and were dying, do you think you could cure him by conducting research on your healthy aunt Edna? Since it is not possible to cure a sick animal by conducting research on healthy humans, is it possible to cure a sick human by conducting research on a healthy animal?

Every species of animal has a different biochemistry. This would mean that it is impossible to conclude connections between non-human animals and human beings with absolute certainty. This would also be true in comparing one species of animal to another. It is also impossible to recreate a spontaneous disease in the lab in both animals and humans. Infectious diseases are the exception. Remember though that animals do not get human infectious diseases and we do not get theirs.

Unfortunately, most medical research is based on “the animal model of human disease”. This model maintains that it is possible to reproduce spontaneous human diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, AIDS, et…

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The Teaching of Tolerance

They first came for the Communists and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.

Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out.

Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out.

And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.

Pastor Martin Niemoeller, a German opponent of Nazism

When asked what it means to be an American, many people associate their country with individual freedoms and rights. This is particularly true of freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the right to assemble, and the right to a trial by a jury of peers. Clearly, no rights are absolute – you are not protected from falsely shouting “fire” in a crowded theater, for example.

The United States has placed limitations on civil liberties in the past. The internment of Japanese Americans in the 1940s and the McCarthy hearings in the 1950s are just two examples of this. …

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Legacy Programs - Tradition or Exclusionary

A policy known as Legacy gives an advantage to applicants who had family members that had attended the school in the past over applicants who did not have such connections. Admission to some schools is extremely competitive and legacy programs can have a large impact at these schools. An example of the impact is Harvard University. The acceptance rate for legacy applicants is 40%, compared to 11% for the entire applicant pool.

The 2003 Supreme Court ruling that upheld affirmative action in college admissions has brought legacy policies under scrutiny. Critics of both programs perceive them to be unfair policies that give some applicants an undeserved advantage over others. Several schools have dismantled their legacy programs in the last few years to make their admissions policies more consistent.

There has long been a debate among students, professors, and administrators over the pros and cons of legacy programs. Critics say that colleges and universities should end the…

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Obesity and What It Does To Your Body

Over 60 million U.S. adults, ages 20 years and older, are considered obese. The percentage of young people who are overweight has more than tripled since 1980. According to Center for Disease Control (CDC), a total of approximately 40 million American adults met the classification of obesity.

Obesity affects college students as much as the older adult population. The CDC states that in 2000, 15.2 million college students are obese. This was up almost 8% from 1991, in which obesity was only evident in 8% of college students.

Obesity is not the same as being overweight. The dreaded “Freshman 15” does not make you obese. The CDC defines obesity "as an excessively high amount of body fat or adipose tissue in relation to lean body mass. Body Mass Index (BMI) is a common measure expressing the relationship of weight-to-height. BMI is a mathematical formula in which a person’s body weight in kilograms is divided by the square of his or her height in meters (wt/(ht)2). Individ…

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Identity Theft - How To Protect Yourself

Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States, costing victims over $5 billion annually. Identity theft occurs when someone else uses your personal information without your knowledge or permission to obtain credit cards, get services, obtain loans and mortgages, and commit other types of fraudulent or criminal acts, in your name, leaving you responsible for the consequences.

If your identity is stolen, you may spend months or even years clearing up the damage thieves have caused to your reputation and credit record. During this time, you may lose job opportunities and be refused loans for education, housing, or a car. Although you may never have committed a crime, been late with a payment, or abused your credit, you are the one who would suffer severe financial consequences as a result of identity theft. As a student or recent graduate, being a victim of identity theft jeopardizes your financial future just as you are beginning to establish your cr…

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The Choking Game

Some medical examiners and doctors are looking at the increase in teenage suicide rates from suffocation over the last decade and questioning whether some might in fact have been accidental, the result of a choking game experience gone wrong. In the game, teens (and sometimes children) use a strap of some kind wrapped around their necks to temporarily cut blood flow to the head. One variation of the game involves holding your breath and getting punched in the chest until you black out. Yet another version involves bending over and trying to induce hyperventilation by taking deep breaths followed by someone giving them a “bear hug”. Regardless of the method, the goal is always the same – cut off your oxygen until you pass out.

It is estimated that as many as 20% of teens and preteens play the game. Sometimes it is played in groups. It is believed that nearly all of the deaths were youths who played the game alone. Males were much more likely to die from the choking game than…

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The Electoral College - Pros and Cons

Unlike many other democratic nations, the United States does not hold direct elections for their president. Instead, the U.S. has elected its presidents through the electoral college. This has occurred for more than 200 years. When voters cast their ballot, they are actually voting for a slate of electors who have pledged their support for that candidate. The electors pledged to the candidate receiving the most votes in a particular state get to represent that state in the electoral college. In December of an election year, the winning electors gather at their state capitals to vote for the president and vice president. The electors who make up the electoral college are actually the only people who vote directly for the president.

The number of electors a state sends to the electoral college consists of that state’s U.S. Senators (always two) and its representatives (based on state population). The electoral college currently consists of 538 members – 100 senators, 435 repr…

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Pop Culture In The Classroom

Classes with an academic focus on topics normally associated with leisure time are gaining popularity on college campuses across the country. This trend has cropped up in many departments, tackling a broad range of issues – from shopping and TV to sports and music.

Everyday culture is important in that it tells us a lot about ourselves. It can also be a jumping off point for further academic study. Pop culture classes are an attempt to engage a wider audience.

Despite what seems like light subject matter, these classes ask a lot from their students. They may be applying pop culture to social issues or realizing the economic impact of a music genre. These are serious classes that require serious work. Initial opposition from parents and administrators is dwindling as this becomes apparent.

“The Beatles: Their Music and Their Life” has been taught at USC by Professor Bill Biersach since the late ’80s. Biersach was teaching a recording class when he realized that a num…

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The Problems With Legalizing Marijuana

Cannabis has been a part of civilization for thousands of years, in one form or another. It has been most widely used under the name of hemp. The hemp plant yields very strong fibers that can be used to make fabric, rope, and paper among other things. It also yields seeds that are very high in protein. For hundreds of years, the plant has been harvested in many parts of the world to supply these basic needs. It was one of the first crops planted in the new world and was harvested by many of our founding fathers.

Some strains of the plant – cannabis sativa and cannabis indica – were harvested and processed to remove a resin that was smoked and ingested. This resin is still a part of the world’s economy. The rest of the plant is no longer necessary due to the creation of synthetic fibers like nylon and rayon. Due to the resin produced by this plant, it holds a special place in the world of trade. It commands a relatively high price and is not subject to taxation. It enjoys th…

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Google - More Than Just A Search Engine

Google founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, were not fond of each other when they initially met as Stanford University graduate students in 1995. Larry was visiting the campus and Sergey was assigned to show him around. Every topic they discussed turned into an argument. Their differing viewpoints and strong opinions would eventually solve one of computing’s biggest challenges: retrieving relevant information from a massive amount of data

By January 1996, Larry and Sergey had settled down and begun collaboration on a search engine originally called “BackRub”. Larry was able to build a server environment using low-end PCs instead of big, expensive machines. The pair was often seen on the department’s loading docks tracking down newly arrived computers in hopes that they could borrow them for their network.

A year later, buzz about the new search technology began to build as word spread around campus. Larry and Sergey continued working on their technology through the firs…

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Headaches - A Side Effect of Stress

Most of us have experienced a headache in our lives. The stresses of college can contribute greatly. Seven in ten people have at least one headache a year. The majority of these headaches only last a few hours, but some headaches can persist for weeks.

There are two types of headaches: primary headaches and secondary headaches. Primary headaches are not caused by other diseases. Examples of primary headaches are migraine headaches, tension headaches, and cluster headaches. Secondary headaches are caused by other diseases. The other diseases may be minor or life threatening.

With a headache, pain may occur in only one part of the head or it may involve the entire head. The type of pain experienced varies – constant, dull, sudden, or sharp. Sometimes other symptoms, such as nausea, occur depending on the type of headache.

There are three main types of primary headaches:


Tension headaches are the most common type of headache. As many as 90% of …

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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) - Reliving the Past

You’ve probably heard the term Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in the news lately. The estimated lifetime prevalence of PTSD among adult Americans is 7.8%. Women (10.4%) are twice as likely as men (5%) to have PTSD at some point in their lives. This may change with the number of veterans coming back from the Iraqi war with PTSD. PTSD is an anxiety disorder that develops after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal. A variety of events may trigger PTSD.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) develops after a terrifying ordeal that involved physical harm or the threat of physical harm. The person who develops PTSD does not have to be the one who was harmed. The harm may have happened to a loved one or the person may have witnessed a harmful event that happened to a loved one or strangers. PTSD was first brought to public attention in relation to war veterans. It can result from a variety of traumatic incidents – mugging, rape, torture, being kidnapped or held captive, c…

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How To Establish Good Credit While In College

It can be difficult to obtain a loan or credit card if you haven’t established credit yet. It can be a frustrating catch-22. If you don’t have credit, you can’t get credit, yet how can you ever establish credit if nobody is willing to give you any? Lenders don’t have the normal things to look at, like your payment history or FICO score, when deciding whether or not to give you credit. In these situations they have to look at other factors to decide if you are a credit risk or not.

There are a few things you can do that may help you establish credit. The first thing you should do is open and maintain a checking and savings account at a local bank. Unfortunately your checking and savings accounts don’t get reported to the credit bureaus. If you already do business with a bank and have active accounts in good standing, they should be the first place you go to look for a credit card or loan. They know you and they value your business. This existing relationship may carry some we…

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Letters To The Editor - Making Your Voice Heard

Letters to the editor are an easy and effective way for you to voice your concerns to the people around you. Maybe you are forming your own opinions since coming to college and you’d like to share them. Maybe you’ve seen something going on locally or on campus that you would like to speak out about. You can also use letters to the editor to correct facts in response to inaccuracies, statements by government officials, to explain the connection between a news story and your issues, or to praise or criticize an article. The letters section is one of the most widely read segments of a newspaper.

Before writing your editorial, find out the newspaper’s policy for printing letters. Instructions for submitting a letter to the editor can usually be found on the editorial page (or section) of the paper or on the paper’s website. If you do not see any guidelines, call the paper. Some will have word limits and most all will require that you also submit your name, address, and phone num…

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Is It True Love or Infatuation?

Wanting to love and be loved is a very normal need. We grow up watching movies with happy endings where the heroes fall in love and live happily ever after. Many of us desire this for ourselves. When we are around someone we are attracted to, our brains release chemicals that make us feel good. These feelings trigger euphoria.

Euphoria is an altered state of consciousness induced by the action of what neurobiologists call PEA – phenylethylamine. PEA works with the hormones dopamine and norepinephrine and triggers powerful side effects. Symptoms include a delightfully positive attitude, increased energy, decreased need for sleep, and loss of appetite. Natural amphetamines are feeding this love frenzy. The PEA levels must be high enough to overcome the amygdale, a part of the brain linked with fear and emotions. Our neurobiological system includes the amygdale to prevent us from doing something stupid.

By using real-time MRI brain images of people in the initial throes of…

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Are You Using Guilt As A Weapon?

Today I overheard a conversation where a female told a male (I assumed her significant other)”If you loved me, you would do it.” If you’ve ever done this, you may be using guilt as a weapon.

This behavior may get you want in the short term, but it could undermine your relationship and steal away the intimacy you have with your partner. Using guilt against your partner makes love conditional. If you manipulate your partner with guilt you are telling them that unless things are done the way you demand you will stop caring for them. You set yourself up in a position of power that can only be sustained by keeping the other person down. Relationships where power is uneven are doomed to fail.

Guilt-tripping your partner often takes the form of “if you loved me you would” or “I don’t see why you can’t just” statements. Both of these set up tasks that your partner must perform to your satisfaction in order to be accepted and worthy. It asks your partner to prove their love over…

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Early Risers - Born or Made?

Are morning people born or made? Regardless of how they get there, there is a high correlation between success and rising early. Your productivity will almost always be higher, not just in the morning but all throughout the day. You may also notice a feeling of well-being

There are two main types of sleep patterns. One says you should go to bed and get up at the same times every day. You try to sleep the same hours each night. This suits the predictability of our schedules. This should also give us adequate rest. The other type of sleep pattern says you should listen to your body’s needs and go to bed when you’re tired and rise when you naturally wake up. This approach is rooted in biology. Our bodies should know how much rest we need.

Both sleep patterns are wrong if you are concerned about productivity. Here’s why:

If you sleep set hours, you’ll sometimes go to bed when you aren’t tired. If it takes more than 10 minutes to fall asleep each night, you aren’t sleepy e…

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Information Literacy - A Goal, Not A Technique

The beginning of the 21st century has been called the Information Age. This is due to the explosion of information output and the increase in available information sources. Students cannot learn everything they need to know in their field of study in a few years of college. Information literacy equips them with the critical skills necessary to become independent lifelong learners.

Information literate people are those who have learned how to learn. They know how to learn because they know how knowledge is organized, how to find information, and how to use information in such a way that others can learn from them. They are people prepared for lifelong learning, because they can always find the information needed for any task or decision at hand. This is not just for college students but all of us – as professionals, in the workplace, and in our personal lives. Being information literate ultimately improves our quality of life as we make informed decisions when buying a house,…

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Internet Addiction and College Students

Internet addiction will garner our attention in 2008. It has actually been a concern since the dawn of the web. While the trend is not a new one, it is an important one. There are numerous things on the internet to occupy large amounts of your time – online discussions, gambling, porn, IM, and/or interactive role-playing games. Whatever you are looking for, you’ll find it on the internet.

Between 5 and 10% of web users suffer from some form of Internet dependency. This dependency is also known as Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD). The disorder was first described in 1995, but hasn’t yet been accepted by the American Psychiatric Association as a formal diagnosis. It is not included in the DSM IV as a mental illness.

There are ways to tell if you’re afflicted with IAD. These include: Spending more and more time online to achieve the same level of satisfaction and experiencing anxiety when not connected. You might notice your use, but find it difficult to cut down. You find…

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Academic Freedom and The Patriot Act

Freedom of speech, of the press, of association, of assembly, and petition comprises what we refer to as freedom of expression. Without it, other fundamental rights would cease to exist. Despite it being the core of our constitution, our commitment to freedom of expression has been tested over and over again. People exercising their First Amendment rights have been censored, fined, even jailed. Those with unpopular political ideas have sometimes suffered the wrath of the government. During WWI, a person could be jailed for handing out anti-war leaflets. This was a time of evolution for the First Amendment. We now live in the most speech-protected country in the world.

In 1969, in Brandenberg v. Ohio, it was decided that speech can be suppressed only if it is intended, and likely to produce, “imminent lawless action.” Otherwise, even speech that advocates violence is protected. The Brandenberg standard prevails today. First Amendment protection is not limited to “pure speech”…

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What Is A Land Grant Institution?

On July 2, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed into law what is generally referred to as the Land Grant Act. The first Morrill Act granted each state 30,000 acres of federal land for every senator and representative. Each state was to sell the land and invest the proceeds in an endowment, which would provide support for education. The mission was – and continues to be today – to incorporate the traditions of the liberal arts and sciences with those of the practical, agricultural, military, mechanical, and industrial arts.

The second Morrill Act provided additional federal funding for the original land-grants and also created 17 more land-grants with 17 predominantly black colleges in the southern states. These schools primarily teach agriculture, military tactics, mechanical arts, and home economics.

In 1914 the Smith-Lever Act established the system of cooperative extension services to bring people the benefits of current developments in the field of agriculture, hom…

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College Students and Cosmetic Surgery

Why do some young women want to change their appearance with cosmetic surgery? Money and men weren’t the answer. In a recent survey, less than 30% said they would have surgery if they had an unlimited amount of money and only 5% indicated that they would have surgery at the request of a romantic partner. The most important factors influencing college students are media images, investment in appearance, and physical comparison to others.

2.5% of those surveyed have body dysmorphic disorder. This is a preoccupation with a slight or imagined defect in appearance that causes significant disruption in daily functioning. Those women spent more than an hour per day thinking about their appearance. Their obsession was disrupting their lives, including avoiding social activity and romantic relationships. Those people should not have cosmetic surgery. They will never be satisfied with the results. Of the women without body dysmorphic disorder, 29% said they were concerned that they …

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Peace Corps - Volunteering Internationally

The Peace Corps began in 1960 when then Senator John F. Kennedy challenged students at the University of Michigan to serve their country by living and working in developing countries in the name of peace. From that challenge, a federal agency was developed in 1961 devoted to world peace and friendship. The Peace Corps is more vital than ever. Volunteers continue to help countless individuals who want to build a better life for themselves, their families, and their communities.

The Peace Corps’ mission has three simple goals:

  • Helping the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women.
  • Helping promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.
  • Helping promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

Peace Corps Volunteers work in the following areas: education (36%), Health & HIV/AIDS (21%), Business (15%), Environmental (14%), Youth Outreach (6%), Agriculture (5%), Other…

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AmeriCorps - Volunteering Domestically

AmeriCorps began in 1994 as a domestic service program in the United States. It offers about 75,000 opportunities for adults of all ages and backgrounds to serve through a network of partnerships with local and national nonprofit groups. AmeriCorps members address critical needs in communities all across America.

Americorps is made up of three main programs: AmeriCorps State and National, AmeriCorps VISTA, and AmeriCorps NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps).

  • AmeriCorps State and National

The purpose of AmeriCorps State is to engage AmeriCorps members in direct service and capacity-building to address unmet community needs. Local programs design service activities for a team of members serving full- or part-time for one year or during the summer. Sample activities include tutoring and mentoring youth, assisting crime victims, building homes, and restoring parks. AmeriCorps members also mobilize community volunteers and strengthen the capacity of the organization…

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Smoke Em If You've Got Em - Tobacco Use and College Students

Tobacco use is common among college students nationwide and is not limited to cigarettes. 28.5% of college students polled are current smokers. When asked why, the most common reasons were stress, less supervision at college, having more free time, and the number of their friends who smoke. Unfortunately, many students do not realize how addictive nicotine can be.

College students were less likely to be regular cigarette smokers than their peers not attending college. Of those who currently smoke, fewer full and part-time college students were daily smokers than their non-enrolled counterparts. Among 18 to 24 year olds, males were more likely than females to have tried cigarettes in their lifetime. 68% of male college students had tried cigarettes compared to 61% of female college students. Of those 18 to 24 year olds not enrolled in school, 78% of the males had used cigarettes in their lifetime compared with 68% of females. 28% of males not enrolled in school reported dail…

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Drunk Driving and DUI Laws

Drunk driving has increased among college students over the past few years. This is according to a report from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). An estimated 2.8 million drove while under the influence of alcohol in 2001, compared to 2.3 million in 1998.

You should always question whether it is safe to drive after consuming any amount of alcohol. Impairment can begin long before a person reaches the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level necessary to be guilty of drunk driving. In all 50 states, the legal limit for drunk driving is a BAC level of .08. A 120-pound woman can reach a .08 BAC level after only two drinks and a 180-pound man can be at .08 after only four drinks. A drink is considered one shot of liquor, a five-ounce glass of wine, or one beer. Impairment begins with the first drink. It is important to note that the effects of alcohol intoxication are greatly influenced by individual variations among users. Some users may become into…

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