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Shiela Fielding

WRTC 103

February 15, 2018

Framing Alcohol

Believe it or not, alcohol is not the reason for the current high number of sexual assaults

on college campuses. In his article titled Is Alcohol Really to blame for the Prevalence of Sexual

Assault on College Campuses? (2016), Daniel Luzer, who works full time as a news editor for

Governing magazine, delves into what could be causing sexual assault attacks on university

campuses. Luzer effectively argues against alcohol being the reason for the high number of

sexual assaults on campuses through the use of rhetorical appeals Ethos, Pathos, and Logos as

well as statistic based evidence to support his claims.

Though the title of the article draws attention to the topic of alcohol not being at fault

on college campuses, Luzer’s main point is more complex than that. Luzer emphasizes that

changes in social interaction are the primary cause of sexual assault on college campuses, not

alcohol. He explains the differences between average social interaction between students now

compared to decades ago. The amount of alcohol that was consumed in both time periods is

generally the same, but sexual assault on university grounds is far higher now. Luzer uses

climatic organization to build up his argument as well as a fairly conversational, but still

professional, style of writing. He supports his claims by including multiple statistics and

references to other works on the misconception that alcohol is at fault. The intended audience
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for this article is people who are looking for more information on the subject or who think that

alcohol is the reason for the high number of sexual assaults on college campuses.

Luzer does not shy away from using rhetorical appeals as Ethos, Logos, and Pathos

commonly appear throughout his article. He begins with Ethos by endorsing his credibility,

“Luzer is a writer and an editor who serves as the news editor of Governing magazine. He also

has contributed to publications including Columbia Journalism Review, Mother Jones,

and Pacific Standard” (Para 2). By opening with a profile of himself, reliability is established.

Later in the article, the author references his personal experience, “I was in college then—we

were talking about how college students party” (Para 18). Luzer is discussing with a friend of

older age the different ways that students drink and mesh socially. Although Luzer was the only

one that was enrolled in college at the time, he was able to compare his then-current

involvement as a student with his friends past experience, giving him depth on how students

interacted and partied in addition to his firsthand knowledge.

In addition, Luzer also uses Pathos in between the statistics to provoke an emotional

response from the reader. He incites his audiences’ emotion by writing “but is drinking really

the cause of many sexual assault cases, and the reason for its prevalence on college

campuses?” (Para 6). Here Luzer asks a bold question after providing multiple statistics to

support his argument that alcohol is not to blame for high number of sexual assaults at

colleges. His purpose in this question is for the reader to contemplate what they really believe

and hopefully persuade them to his side of the argument.


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The rhetorical appeal that he uses the most is Logos. The majority of his argument is

built around using logic to explain why the numbers of assaults are so high now, “While we've

seen a vast increase in reporting of sexual assault on college campuses over the last 50 years,

there's been no noticeable change in alcohol consumption. So what's really going on?” (Para

16). Luzer notes that the statistics for alcohol consumption and reports of sexual assaults are

not parallel, so he uses logic to ask what the reason is for the disparity. He continues to use a

realistic mentality on the issue, “it may be a good idea to reduce consumption, but just telling

people, male or female, not to drink so much probably isn't going to do very much because

college students like to get drunk” (Para 14). Luzer understands that advising students to cut

down on consumption isn’t a realistic option because drinking is simply a part of the college

experience for a large population of students. His consistent logical outlook makes logos the

most prominent of the rhetorical appeals and keeps his argument within reason for all

audiences.

Luzer is effective in identifying that the true cause to campus sexual assault is not

alcohol, but changes in social interaction. The purpose of his article is not to force a solution,

but educate about what the real problem is. Luzer adequately uses Ethos, Logos, and Pathos to

expand and support his argument, with Logos being essential to the structure of his article.

Luzer successfully argues against alcohol being the cause of the high number of sexual assaults

at universities by using statistic based evidence, along with the rhetorical appeals, to support

his claims.
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Works Cited

Luzer, Daniel. "Is Alcohol Really to Blame for the Prevalence of Sexual Assault on College
Campuses?" Sexual Assault on Campus, edited by Jack Lasky, Greenhaven Press, 2016.
Opposing Viewpoints. Opposing Viewpoints in Context,
http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/EJ3010984212/OVIC?u=viva_jmu&xid=c9ba0ce1. Accessed
13 Feb. 2018. Originally published in Pacific Standard, 18 Nov. 2013.