College students and drinking are synonymous.
Drinking has become a well-established part of many students’ college careers, and it’s because of this fact that Penn State decided to do something about it.
To help curb excessive drinking during the unofficial holiday known as State Patty’s Day, — occuring on St. Patrick's Day — 34 downtown businesses supported a plan to prohibit the sale of alcohol on that day specifically.
By doing this, each business will receive a $5,000 subsidy paid by Penn State to help with lost revenue in exchange for not serving any alcohol.
Started in 2007 State Patty’s Day was created because it fell on spring break that year, but that is no longer the case.
This has led to a weekend that school administrators, student leaders and community residents fear. State Patty’s Day has not only become a drinking holiday, but a day that leaves the city with large amounts of property damage.
Has college drinking really gotten that out of hand? So much so that temporary bans need to be in effect during holidays?
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, or NIAAA, 80 percent of college students drink alcohol, and almost half engage in binge drinking at least once every two weeks. The NIAAA classifies binge drinking as consuming four-to-five “drinks” in about two hours.
From my personal experiences these numbers seem about right, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s okay.
The NIAAA argues college drinking leads to injury, assault, sexual abuse, unsafe sex, academic problems, abuse and dependence, drunk driving, and death; having a temporary ban on alcohol sales for a few businesses is not going to stop any of that.
State Patty’s Day will continue on. Students will be able to access alcohol and will probably drink in spite of the ban.
In order to prevent students from getting themselves into dangerous situations, students need to be educated about how alcohol works before they get into college and availability sky rockets.
Many students come into college with no awareness as to how alcohol will affect them and thus put themselves into regrettable situations. If students were educated about the risks of drinking, how to measure their limits effectively, and how to avoid putting themselves into situations, they can more easily escape the fate of becoming a statistic.
Instead of prohibition, the NIAAA suggests a three pronged “attack”. The NIAAA wants to focus on the individual, the whole campus and the surrounding community to help address student drinking.
I agree with the NIAAA; it’s going to take more than temporary bans on alcohol to stop what has been known as the “invisible epidemic”.
If we really want students to stop drinking, it’s going to take a coordinated multi-group a lot of time and effort, not some temporary Band-Aid that makes people angrier than anything else.
We tried prohibition at the beginning of the 20th century. It didn’t work then; it won’t work now.