A survey released at the Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association in Denver figured out that wealthy, white fraternity brothers are the "happiest" college students, but there's one great equalizer between them and the rest of the not as "happy" students: binge drinking. "I would guess it has to do with feeling like you belong and whether or not you're doing what a 'real' college student does," Colgate University's Carolyn Hsu, who authored the study, said in an interview with Livescience. Hsu and her team looked at one liberal arts college in the Northeast and polled over 1,500 students, to find how "status" affects college students' happiness. They found that straight white, males who were in fraternities had the highest social satisfaction and students who didn't fit into that mold weren't as happy. But, Hsu's team found that among students that don't fit into the white, fraternity, male mold--those who binge drink (more than four drinks for women and more than five drinks per session for men) reported social satisfaction comparable to the white fraternity bros. "Binge drinking is a symbolic proxy for higher social status in college and is correspondingly related to greater social satisfaction" Hsu wrote in the report--or more simply (and sadly) binge-drinking to fit in socially, may actually make college kids happier. "For the price of a six-pack or two of beer, a minority or poorer student can feel as if they have become a member of the Beverly Hills Country Club," Dr. Mark Jaffe, a psychiatrist at Cliffside Malibu Drug Detox Program told ABC News' Dr. Tiffany Chao.
Before you start losing hope for future generations of college students, it's important to remember that Hsu and her team were only looking at one, small liberal arts college. "Since [the study] is descriptive and not experimental, the two end points may not be linked, Dr. Fulton T. Crews, director of the Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, told ABC News. "It is possible drinking reflects satisfaction for some, [but] changes mood, creating dissatisfaction for others."
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