If there’s one place in our society that is known for drunken debauchery (besides bars and clubs) it’s a college campus. Whether it’s the new freedom that college students have or the desire of upper classmen to take advantage of the younger and vulnerable freshman, our nation’s institutions of higher learning have a bizarre and dangerous relationship with booze.
Trying to find a college campus that is completely free of alcohol is probably impossible. While it’s true that the majority of students on these campuses are adults and have rights to their privacy (meaning that faculty and security can’t always just randomly search through students’ possessions), colleges still have a responsibility to keep the under-aged population of their university from engaging in dangerous alcohol consumption.
Studies have shown that college-aged students have a much higher probability of being involved in heavy drinking than their peers that are the same age. Whatever the reason is that college students are getting drunk so much more often than their non-college peers, universities need to start cracking down on this behavior in order to keep students safe.
The Dangers of Drinking in College
One of the most dangerous myths in our country is the idea that college students are going to drink no matter what we do. This is a defeatist attitude that there is nothing we can do to protect these young people from endangering their own lives. Just because a dangerous situation already exists, it doesn’t mean that we have to be okay with it or let it continue.
Just floating this idea or being in agreement with it keeps the myth alive. When parents shrug their shoulders at drinking in college or when TV shows and movies act like it’s a fact for every college student, they perpetuate a myth that young people see and decide to follow.
The problem with allowing the myth to continue is that alcohol is one of the primary influences in tens of thousands of assaults, rapes, murders and accidental deaths every year. Colleges have recently begun to admit that they have a serious problem with sexual assaults, for example. Students are committing sexual assaults against other students at a much higher rate than anyone has been comfortable with admitting in the past, and alcohol is almost always involved. It is seen by sexual predators as a way of facilitating their attacks.
Binge drinking is also a common occurrence at parties and fraternities, yet it is one of the very easiest ways to get alcohol poisoning. When someone drinks far too much in one sitting, it can actually poison the body to the extent that the person goes unconscious and dies. Young people need to be aware of this fact and abstain from binge drinking completely.
How University Police and Security are Failing
Research has also shown that campus police and security are failing at doing their jobs in protecting college students from their own criminal and dangerous behavior. For example, one study examined the responses of police and security at 343 college campuses to alcohol use. They found that police and security were actually very unlikely to issue citations for alcohol-law violations. They were also very unlikely to help get these underage students to health clinics for alcohol screening or intervention.
In other words, when they found underage drinking, police and security were unlikely to actually do anything effective to prevent it from happening in the future. If the people that are entrusted with keeping college students safe can’t even do that, who is going to do so? We all need to step up and demand greater accountability from college administrations to keep alcohol off of campuses and to keep students safe.