Feb 142005
Authors: Vincent Adams

The university is in a tough position, a real tough position. The city and statewide community is looking to CSU to figure out ways to cut down on binge drinking, which has gained prominence in recent discourse after the string of alcohol-related deaths at CSU and the University of Colorado-Boulder. Because the common denominator is the two university towns, people think it is college and its often "Animal House" ways that are to blame for binge drinking.

Sadly, there isn't much the university can do to solve this problem.

Reading the latest version of the official recommendations from the CSU Alcohol Task Force to CSU President Larry Penley's office, you read a lot of "work with the community (this way)," "(make more) awareness programs" and "enforce (this and that)." My personal favorite is Recommendation 4.3 because it hopes to "eliminate all drinking games and related paraphernalia (including but not limited to quarters, beer bongs and beer pong set ups)." Really? How is that going to happen? Outlaw Solo cups?

I am not knocking the university; after all it has to do something (or at least appear that it is), but its recommendations and hopes are comparable to an infant trying to tackle a gorilla: The university is simply overmatched.

Alcohol problems among the college-aged come from society's hypocritical view of youth. People celebrate movies where kids are making themselves look silly in the latest kegger at Stifler's house. Adults remember their youthful indiscretions with alcohol fondly and are not shy about sharing their bingeful youth.

Getting blasted on Friday nights is socially celebrated and looked at as a rite of passage.

Since this rite of passage is so highly celebrated, kids look to college and its alcoholic utopia as a way to earn adulthood. After all, you can't be an adult without story upon story about how much you drank that one night and how many times you vomited on your friends and yourself.

Kids learn through socialization that one must get wasted as much as possible if they are truly living that highly sought-after youth.

What gives alcohol more power is that society hollowly condemns binge drinking – how can society actually condemn something it celebrates?

This adds the rebellious element, which satisfies both the need to earn adulthood and rebel against it.

Now, as a past and present participant to many bingeful nights, I am not saying all this is bad. In fact, I just wish adults would guide youngsters more instead of ignoring the problem and hypocritically celebrating something they forbid. Further, I realize I am not presenting new information to the masses. What I have written is mainly common sense – which is the main point.

We know binge drinking at college campuses is as much a part of the lifestyle as all-night cram sessions, poor dietary habits and fall football madness. Why then do we cover up the issue with meaningless hopes and laws? If we, as a society, truly hope to cut down on irresponsible drinking then we need to stay connected to common sense and use its wise ways when seeking solutions.

More programs aren't going to help – actually, I would argue, most of what the university recommends would add more to fuel to the rebellious element. Banning beer at Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium actually encourages faster, more bingeful drinking outside the gates, and there is no way to stop beer pong. The beast of youthful binge drinking is too big, too fun and too a part of what it means to be a college kid.

I have no idea how to solve this college-life paradox, and I applaud the university for stepping up and at least submitting ideas to the discourse, but don't expect these knee-jerk solutions to cure the cancerous ways of this problem.

Vince Adams is an English graduate student. His column runs every Tuesday in the Collegian.

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