Despite the widely held image of colleges and universities as the bastion of higher learning for the future leaders of the nation, the reality is it is also one of the breeding grounds of future alcoholics and soon-to-be-dead people. Uncontrolled drinking has been, and still is, the cause of the increasing incidences of violence, date rapes and car accident deaths involving mostly underage students.
Many college administrators have continually refused to acknowledge the growing menace of underage binge drinking. It was only until body bags and emergency room cases begin to pile up when state legislations are passed providing stiffer penalties against underage drinking. Efforts by college authorities to put a stop to drinking in student dormitories and frat houses have proven futile. Binge drinking continues to gain ground.
Bingeing went underground where it evolved into a totally different animal. Minor-aged students finished bottles of liquor to prime themselves up for what they perceive as a boring college activity. Some even sneak off campus where their drinking parties go totally out of bounds. A sleeping neighborhood’s silence is broken by late-night whoops, yells and drunken laughter. Morning will find the streets littered with liquor bottles and drying vomit. Even the cops are just as helpless as college security guards.
Hell bent to lash back with a vengeance, 150 desperate college officials, including the presidents of Dartmouth and Duke, have launched a signature campaign to lower to the age of 18 the legal drinking age. Their explanation is that lowering the legal drinking age will eventually teach minors to drink responsibly provided they get the proper training and responsible guidance.
It is not only the consumption of alcohol that provides fun for college drinkers; it is the adrenaline rush they get when they sneak in a couple of the forbidden liquor which they have to finish off real fast.
Even teenaged girls in coed campuses are not exempt from binge drinking. A big reason for drinking is to break down the wall of inhibition between members of the opposite sex. It is for them a fun and fast way to open up to each other without having to jump through the traditional hoops of dating and courtship. It has now turned to a weak excuse for shy boys and girls to find a way to hook up. No wonder teen pregnancies have risen dramatically to epidemic proportions.
It is not only for sex and adrenaline rush that college students turn to drinking. At the top of the list is drinking because of peer pressure. In this social ritual, bonding with your peers is strengthened by alcohol. Refusing to take part in heavy drinking sprees can only brand you as an outcast while getting totally wasted equates to being one of the guys and will earn the respect of your peers.
Lowering their drinking age is no guarantee that minors will stay off the bottle. The legal drinking age in both England and Germany is 18 but they are still plagued with the alarming rise in binge-drinking teens. Perhaps the best deterrent for teen bingeing can still be the old house rules we came to grow up with: getting grounded with privileges withheld.