Campus drinking scare has no substance

In the first two weeks of September alone, BUPD recorded 10 counts of possession of alcohol by minors on campus.

In the same period last year, there were only six “liquor law violations,” total.

BUPD’s website does not specify how many of those related to underage possession.

It might make one think that the drinking epidemic in this country is going to wipe out this new generation before graduation.

But these numbers are less alarming than they seem.

Approximately 5,000 Americans under the age of 21 die from alcohol-related incidents each year, according to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

This is a tragedy. Every life is sacred, and when even one person dies, society should do its level best to see if changes can be made to prevent future loss.

However, the chances of a teen dying from an alcohol-related accident were about nine in 100,000, and those numbers were trending downward, according to a 2005 study from George Mason University.

For college students, that number is lower; not every underage student drinks.

In 2009, approximately 20.4 million Americans were enrolled in college, and 64.1% of those students who were underage reported using alcohol in the past month, according to the National Center for Education Statistics and the New York State Office of Alcoholism & Substance Abuse Services.

That percentage is actually down from the 1980s.

In other words, underage drinking in college students is not new, nor uncommon, nor particularly dangerous overall.

“It’s kind of an expected part of college. Parents know it happens,” Seth Delofsky, sophomore, said. Delofsky also said he does not drink.

Some organizations choose to take that culture into account when they promote changes to alcohol policy.

The Amethyst Initiative, for example, is a group of college and university presidents and chancellors who advocate lowering the drinking age to 18 on college campuses.

Former Butler President Bobby Fong is one of the major signatories.

Current president Jim Danko has not made a public statement on the issue.

The Amethyst Initiative claims that the drinking age has developed a culture of “dangerous and clandestine ‘binge-drinking’—often conducted off-campus.”

The Initiative cites the hypocrisy of a society where “adults under 21 are deemed capable of voting, signing contracts, serving on juries and enlisting in the military, but…are told they are not mature enough to have a beer.”

The point that is so often ignored is that a 21-year-old is just as capable of binge drinking as an 18-year-old.

If you think that’s not true, go to Broad Ripple this Friday and watch the completely legal adults stagger down the street.

Underage drinkers are more likely to binge drink, according to many studies. But experts disagree about why that is.

Many claim that the inflexible ban on alcohol, paired with the proximity of young students and drinking, only increases their desire for alcohol.

I can’t find a reasonable way to disagree.

There’s nothing wrong with Good Clean Fun and programs like it that encourage students to be social without drinking.

At the same time, there is nothing wrong with responsible adults consuming alcohol as part of an event.

Whether those adults are 40, 21 or 18 is irrelevant. What should matter is responsibility.

If a freshman drinks until he or she gets sick every day of the week, he or she is acting irresponsibly.

But the same could be said for a 21-year-old student or any other member of society.

Partying to the point of illness is dumb, regardless of age, occupation or college enrollment.

Some people think that means that alcohol should be more strictly controlled.

But I’m pretty sure that didn’t work out so hot last time.

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