NEWS BLOG (WSAU) I remember my first night alone as a freshman on the Syracuse University campus. I moved into the dorm on Saturday. That night night was free time. Classes didn’t start until Monday. My newfound friends and I went out to explore our newfound independence.
I was the first person in my family to go away to college. It was my first time in a drinking environment with no parental consequences. I really has no idea what to expect.
Even though the drinking age was 21, alcohol was readily available. Our first night on campus we were put in touch with any number of people who could make fake IDs that would pass muster with most bouncers. Even those of us who couldn’t get into the bars could find alcohol at any fraternity-house or apartment. When I returned to my dorm room there were people passed out on the front lawn of my dormitory, and others throwing up in the janitors sink in the hallway utility closet.
UW-Stevens Point is debating whether to make all on-campus housing alcohol free. It’s mostly in response to the death of Eric Duffey, who drowned on his 21st birthday after a night of drinking.
These kinds of deaths, which happen all too frequently, are tragic. But they are independent cases where individuals over-imbibed. I’m skeptical of blanket policies that take away the privilege of drinking for those who are responsible. Yet this kind of thinking is becoming more prevalent. Some people are obese; ban large-size sodas for everyone. Some college students are problem drinkers; ban alcohol for all of them on-campus.
When I was in college we learned own limits quickly enough. Some students drank so much they flunked out of school. A few got into trouble with the law. Most figured out that they couldn’t get a good education if they were hung over half the time. This is exactly the same calculation that other adults make: party on the weekends, work hard and generally stay sober during the week. Learning those limits is a part of going to school.
Our laws say that a 21-year-old can legally consume alcohol. Those rights don’t suddenly go away just because a person lives in a college dormitory. If they’re of-age, let ‘em drink. Also let them deal with the consequences of not being able to handle their liquor responsibly.