So far, this school year CSU has witnessed two alcohol-fueled riots and a death because of alcohol poisoning, and it’s not even the end of September. While these actual happenings may be blamed on a small minority of our campus community, the fact that their occurrence is not uncommon is indicative of our community’s popular acceptance of such behavior.
In lieu of these events, the CSU administration, thrust into the spotlight of accountability, decided last week to suspend beer sales at football games until a newly formed task force assesses our campus’ drinking problem.
A great many students, enraged by what they call a “knee-jerk” reaction by the administration, have come out of the woodwork to protest the beer ban. The assertion that the ban unfairly penalizes responsible drinkers and does nothing to address binge drinking or underage consumption is correct; what students are failing to understand, however, is the administration’s rationale behind instituting the ban.
Gary Ozzello, director of media relations for CSU’s athletic department, said it would be “hypocritical” of the university to have a task force investigating substance abuse among students and the community while at the same time providing alcohol at football games.
Students need to understand that the administration is not trying to punish the student community by banning alcohol sales at Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium. While outright prohibition may not be a tangible step toward promoting responsible drinking among students, the administration currently cannot be associated with any alcohol consumption by any student, even responsible ones.
I think the newly appointed task force will eventually reach two main conclusions: First, a slim portion of the population commits the major incidents of alcohol-related debauchery. Second, and what needs to change, is the majority’s passive acceptance and, at times, empathetic condoning of such behavior.
The notion that college is a time of hedonistic experimentation is a cornerstone of American popular culture. That idea is not, in itself, wrong or even bad; exposing one’s self to new things is a necessary and healthy part of growing up. What is wrong is how people our age use this guise of exploration not only as a passport to act ridiculously, but also as a blindfold to hide our eyes from the grievous actions of our friends.
Dismissing a friend’s poor behavior as innocent drunkenness is just as irresponsible as dismissing your own. Binge drinking and the ills associated with it are communal problems and not just the fault of individuals because it is the community that accepts it as a part of life.
I know most of you think getting blacked out every weekend isn’t cool, so why do you let your friends do it? Why do you let your friends drive drunk? If a friend’s risky behavior bothers you or makes you worry about him or her, how much do you really care if you never say anything?
Of course, there are some people who will get hammered no matter what you say, but they might not get quite as hammered as they used to. A study done by the World Health Organization among problem drinkers in Australia found that even a brief intervention reduced their alcohol consumption by up to 25 percent. A similar study that found similar results was published recently at San Diego State University.
If the student body wants to permanently reacquire the privilege to drink at football games and in fraternity houses, than you, the “responsible” portion of the student body, need to change your behavior as well. Just like the bully in seventh grade, binge drinking will be cool until you stop putting up with it.
Joe Marshall is a senior history major. His column runs on Thursdays.