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100 per cent of students drug users?

By Kerces - 4 April 2006 21

NowUC is running a story claiming a survey shows all uni students use drugs.

A group of 10 students from the University of Canberra were surveyed and results found all had taken drugs and most had used them frequently.

Of the 10 students interviewed, drug use had started between the ages of 13 and 19 years, 70 per cent falling in the 17-19 years category.

Half had taken drugs before to coming to university and 60 per cent said their drug use had either started or increased as a result of the university’s “party environment”.

These are strong claims to make and I’m sure the story would have been applauded for its “big issue” factor and that it’s not just another boring campus story (something NowUC is always trying to get away from).

I strongly suspect the story comes from the journalist, Sophie Moon, talking to her friends or classmates. I don’t think there is necessarily anything wrong with that method, but to then draw the conclusions from it that are laid out in the story seems bizarre — or even deceitful. Ten people out of a cohort of 10,000 is so small as to be insignificant. In fact, unlikely though it is, those ten could actually be a statistical anomaly.

Possibly I’m the statistical anomaly, but there must surely be some students other than me who have never used illicit drugs. My presence at least would indicate that not 100 per cent of students use drugs (but it’s ok because all will go back to normal next year).

In related news, police arrested seven people aged 20 to 25 years old for drug offences on Saturday night. Maybe Ms Moon’s analysis is accurate after all. Or maybe 70 per cent of her survey participants are soon to face a magistrate.

What’s Your opinion?


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21 Responses to
100 per cent of students drug users?
Jey 10:04 pm 04 Apr 06

or maybe she didn’t pay attention in her Communication and Media Research Class, which I am pretty sure is compulsary for students undertaking a Journalism degree at UC

Jey 9:59 pm 04 Apr 06

It seems that the journalistic skills of last year’s second year students haven’t improved much since we were editing their articles consisting of constructed arguments between ministers from press releases and rehashes of content from promotional websites.

jr 7:47 pm 04 Apr 06

If you can guess how many cats I have at home I’ll let you pat both of them… but I digress yet again.

Ms. Moon should know that you need at least 30 (random) participants for a survey to be statistically significant – the higher the number of participants the better the results should become.

Absent Diane 5:56 pm 04 Apr 06

She was on ether (sp?)when she wrote that.. by the sounds of things… my younger brother who is at UC doesn’t drink let alone take drugs…. so I am sure that would put a dent albeit minor in her theory…

Maybe she is just trying to make herself feel better after a bingey weekend…. taking drugs sucks when you have a conscience…

Growling Ferret 5:05 pm 04 Apr 06

Having played footy with a heap of UCAN students over the last five years, from experience the 100% would be a fairly accurate figure! Still, my innocent 18 year old niece would never do anything like that… would she???

Maelinar 5:00 pm 04 Apr 06

K, acknowledged – perhaps you managed to read further than I without feeling too nauseous.

Perhaps the way to get a figure of more than 80% is to include the author in the statistics ?

She was certainly on drugs when she wrote the article…

Kerces 4:49 pm 04 Apr 06

More than 80 per cent of the students surveyed had experimented with a large range of illicit drugs.

The sample covered amphetamines (speed, ecstasy, dexties), hallucinogens (LSD, mushrooms), painkillers, marijuana, and depressants.

I took this to mean these were the drugs asked about in the survey, Mael, and that more than 80 percent had used a combination of several of these.

(Also, how does one get “more than 80 per cent” from a sample size of 10? Half of one person used a large range of drugs?)

Les Whinin 4:49 pm 04 Apr 06

Yeah Caz, apparently CRM has been morphed into something slightly different these days – although I would still say that whatever has changed is a far cry from “fudging statistics 101”, as evidenced by this masquerading emperical study.

To quote Homer Simpson:
“People can come up with statistics to prove anything… forfty percent of all people know that!”

Caz 4:03 pm 04 Apr 06

Um, what are they teaching in UC journalism these days? One of the basic things we were taught in first year is that a sample size like that should always be discounted and isn’t credible enough to form the basis of a story. Has she not done CRM? Do they even still offer it?

Mr_Shab 3:42 pm 04 Apr 06

I’m thinking that she’s either taking the piss, or eyeballing a job at the Daily Tele.

Maelinar 3:38 pm 04 Apr 06

READ the article…

She never said illicit drugs, except in a verification line, so she was probably including coffee and asprin

To that I’d hazard that 99.9% of the worlds population have used licit drugs. No real news in that though…

Slinky the Shocker 3:23 pm 04 Apr 06

The report below has the proportion of 20-29 year olds who have used illicit drugs at 62.9%. I’d add a couple of points for students and estimate 70%.
http://www.aihw.gov.au/publications/phe/ndshs01/ndshs01.pdf

Slinky the Shocker 3:17 pm 04 Apr 06

Maybe we should have a RiotAct poll!

VYBerlinaV8 3:12 pm 04 Apr 06

To say all students are using drugs is plain stupid, there will always be some people who have enough brains to stay away from them.

Sssanta 3:10 pm 04 Apr 06

I would seriously doubt any survey that has a sample size of ten people. Unless the people were interviewed in her lounge room while she packing the bong.

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