Learning Limits: College Women, Drugs, and Relationships

By Kimberly M. Williams | Go to book overview

Chapter I
Drug Use and Finding Like-Using Female Friends'

Most of the women in this project gave a great deal of importance to their college friendships. These women described how drug use intersected with their friendships with other women in college. Each of these women wrote and spoke, many at great length, about their relationships with friends in college and the role of drugs in these relationships.

Women sought female friends with similar attitudes about a variety of subjects--including drug use. Women found friends with attitudes like their own, who tended to use drugs at comparable levels, through organized groups such as the Summer Institute, the multicultural weekend, athletic teams, sororities, and the residence halls. Some of these organized sites contributed to a culture that was racially segregated. "Partying" (typically involving drug use) was segregated as well, and women tended to make and keep friends who were culturally similar. Friendships with other women sometimes influenced the choices and meaning women made about their own drug use including their personal limits.


THE CAMPUS COMMUNITY DIVIDED: RACIAL POLARIZATION ON CAMPUS

The seeking of culturally similar peers (who shared values on a variety of topics including drug use) led to a racially segregated community of students where Black and Latina/Latino students were on one side, White students on the other, and Asian-Americans were forced to choose one or the other or to form a third side. All of the women who spoke directly about race relations on campus acknowledged that the campus was racially segregated and that the two worlds were distinctly different in their socializing. White women acknowledged, for the most part, that students of color were absent from the bars and White fraternity parties. The women and men of color in the class and the students of color with whom I have worked as their academic counselor had a perception of White students as sitting around drinking until they were drunk and "causing a

-13-

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