Tag Archives: binge drinking

Going out not drinking

Good advice for college students from Kill Jill, a college student herself: Give up drinking.

Fact: drinking every weekend (or, in my case, sometimes twice in a weekend) quickly drains your bank account, which is tiny to begin with.

Fact: groceries and an upcoming trip to New York City should be a priority, not a few hours of mixing vodka and Raspberry Sourpuss.

Fact: drinking that much can do serious damage to one’s health.

Fact: drinking every weekend at college leads to death 78% of the time.

OK. So, that last one wasn’t exactly a (documented) fact. But still, you get my point. Anyway, I’ve been 100% sober for 10 days and I plan to be sober for a long time. I can’t afford it and I just don’t feel like it.

She goes on to list seven “Ways To Have Fun In College Without Opening A Bottle Of Anything That Isn’t Coke, Pepsi, orange juice or Snapple”.  She’s not a prohibitionist or a religious fanatic; she just figures life is better without intoxication. I agree, and I wish more college students would get the fact that there are lots of really amazing opportunities out there which only college students can take, and they’re all better than being drunk or bragging about being drunk. And even if you’re a college student and don’t accept that idea, then at least consider the cost angle — do you really have all that much money to throw around on alcohol?


Filed under Student culture

Legalizing it?

There’s a movement afoot to lower the legal drinking age from 21 to 18, and it’s being supported by an unlikely group:

College presidents from about 100 of the nation’s best-known universities, including Duke, Dartmouth and Ohio State, are calling on lawmakers to consider lowering the drinking age from 21 to 18, saying current laws actually encourage dangerous binge drinking on campus.

The movement called the Amethyst Initiative began quietly recruiting presidents more than a year ago to provoke national debate about the drinking age.

“This is a law that is routinely evaded,” said John McCardell, former president of Middlebury College in Vermont who started the organization. “It is a law that the people at whom it is directed believe is unjust and unfair and discriminatory.”

Other prominent schools in the group include Syracuse, Tufts, Colgate, Kenyon and Morehouse.

MADD is, of course, against this idea, as are some other university presidents. The rationale behind lowering the drinking age is familiar: College students are going to drink no matter what, and having the legal age set at 21 encourages a “culture of dangerous, clandestine binge-drinking”.

I’m not a fan of the “they’re doing it already, so let’s legalize it” argument in general , and I am certainly painfully aware of the tendency towards binge drinking on college campuses. But I think there’s a point to be made by the pro-18 crowd. Responsible alcohol consumption is a part of normative adult behavior for most people. Alcohol is not an illegal substance, and there is nothing inherently immoral, or even un-Biblical, about consuming alcohol in moderation. The problem comes in when people drink without moderation and outside accepted cultural norms — binge drinking, becoming dependent on alcohol. Does the drinking age being set at 21 rather than 18 moderate these negative behaviors? The research cited in the original article claims that doing so has reduced the number of drunk driving fatalities, which is good if it’s really true, but otherwise no evidence is presented that a higher legal drinking age makes the acquisition of normative social behavior of alcohol any more likely. Setting the legal age back to 18, on the other hand, might take some of the illicit appeal out of alcohol and help college-aged students learn how to consume in a responsible, adult way (maybe).

The main thing missing from this discussion is parents. Any discussion which does not consider the role of parents working with their kids on this issue when they are adolescents and teenagers is going nowhere fast. It’s as if the parties involved in the article aren’t even aware parents exist. Isn’t it obvious that passing a law is not going to solve the problem of irresponsible drinking on campus apart from parenting which has taught kids about alcohol and its responsible consumption at some point?

Another thing is true in this article — college administrators have to deal with the reality of irresponsible drinking head-on, regardless of what the legal age limit is, rather than blithely pretend that it doesn’t exist or that it’s just part of the college fabric. If the presidents here are really seeking to take on the task of helping young people learn how to be responsible, then great — but if they are just trying to define the problem of “illegal drinking” away by changing the legal age, then shame on them.


Filed under Higher ed, Life in academia, Student culture