Drinking seems to be a rite of passage for any person who enters his or her college years. Once a freshman arrives on campus, he or she is bombarded with fraternities or sororities offering a hand and a party afterwards.
Images of alcohol that appear on posters and bottles are stored away in refrigerators. Newfound friends come by asking you to come to a party with them and express a desire to get “messed up,” “tanked” or “trashed.”
Meanwhile, parents sit by and hope their son or daughter acts responsibly.
The infatuation with the college party lifestyle has permeated almost every niche of our society. I can remember a time a few years ago when I was sitting in on an eighth grade classroom to see if I wanted to consider teaching as a profession. The teacher allowed some time after the lesson for the students to ask me questions about college.
One student asked me if I went to parties where there was alcohol and asked me about girls who went to them.
Isn’t it sad that the only thing that was interesting about college to that boy was the drinking and the partying?
He could have asked about the opportunities or the organizations or the classes. You may think that I am taking this one boy’s opinion out of perspective, but how many of your first thoughts when you got here were not “where’s the library” but “where can I go and get drunk?”
This unfortunate view of life, which puts drinking to extremes, has been propagated in our society by our incredibly “moral” mass media and sadly accepted as the norm and silently reinforced (kids will be kids after all) by our own families.
To set the record straight, I am not against adults of legal age having a drink with friends. What I am shocked and saddened about is how more and more young people are turning to drugs and alcohol and paying for it with their lives.
Take the tragic story of Samantha Spady, a 19-year-old Colorado State University student who died of alcohol poisoning last week. She was found dead in (surprise) a fraternity house with a .436 blood alcohol content. Most states view .10 as being legally intoxicated.
The autopsy revealed that she had consumed 30 to 40 beers or shots of alcohol. Again, you may say dismissively, “It’ll never happen to me.”
Sadly, the case of Spady is not an anomaly. According to the Center for Disease Control, approximately 40,000 people die each year from accidents associated with alcohol. If you add the number who die of alcohol-related causes like cirrhosis it climbs to 75,000 yearly.
Seventy five thousand people dead!
Strangely, this is not a fact put out in our Lollanobooza celebrations where the College again puts on the fa?ade of pretending to care about real problems facing our nation.
There is no talk of these 70,000 victims at this one-night carnival that fraternities and sororities actively advertise. Lollanobooza is and always will be a well-intentioned yet half-hearted failure for one major reason: because it is a flashy Band-Aid that is supposed to stop a gushing arterial wound of society.
Like Pontius Pilate, the enlightened academic community washes its hands of destructive drinking prevention, figuring that Lollanobooza, some posters suggesting people make good choices and an occasional Community Advisor-led program, will suffice for its moral obligation for the year.
Instead of pretending that there are lots of things to do on campus without drinking, let us at least try being honest and addressing the reasons why college students are drinking themselves into unconsciousness on a regular basis.
I understand that I am in the minority in my decision never to drink alcohol, but as a logical person I have never seen the appeal of drinking yourself senseless. All attempts to explain this joy of intoxication to me have failed abysmally.
The root of the problem in my humble opinion is that we, like the rest of the human race, are all seeking meaning and don’t know where to find it.
We are among the brightest, most creative and athletic people in New Jersey and elsewhere, yet we do not know who we are, why we are here and what our purpose is.
These struggles are difficult and may take lifetimes to figure out.
I have a newsflash for all of you: whatever deep-seeded problem you may be trying to drink away tonight will still be there tomorrow morning. Only you will have a hangover and you will not remember what you did last night.
Instead of drinking away our stresses, loneliness and problems, why don’t we – with full assistance from the College – confront them and search for our true meaning in life?