College drinking likely to continue

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 29, 1999

In addition to a couple of work study jobs at the College of St.

Wednesday, September 29, 1999

In addition to a couple of work study jobs at the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, Minn., I spent half a year working at a liquor store to support myself my senior year.

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I suppose working at a liquor store that offered an employee discount would have been the dream job for a good number of my peers. While I did develop an appreciation for fine wines and micro brews, it was the flexible hours and the opportunity to do homework while on the job that appealed to me, not the discount and the easy access to booze.

Despite the perks, I was relieved when a scheduling conflict arose my spring quarter, forcing me to cease my tenure with the liquor store. The job was actually more trouble than what it was worth on several occasions.

Quite a few friends would ask me to buy beer and liquor for them so they might also take advantage of my discount. I had no moral dilemma when it came to picking up a couple of things for friends who were of age. Unfortunately though, some of those people were minors who didn’t like my response to their request.

But it didn’t really matter in the long run. There was always someone on campus who was willing to buy alcohol for their underage friends. Those who were turned down by me could easily find another person to buy the liquor they so desired – but probably not with a discount.

The point is, with the culture as it is now, college students are going to find a way to drink. The consequences they face are not enough to stop them from engaging in such behavior.

A logical person might assume with the amount of drinking-related tragedies that made headlines this past year, some college students would wise up to the dangers of binge drinking. But logic doesn’t always apply to situations that involve high levels of peer pressure. Binge drinking is rising on college campuses.

School officials on college campuses around the country are finally stepping up to address the problem. Unfortunately, their initiatives may not make the impact they hope, and workable solutions aren’t easy to come by.

St. Cloud University, with its increasing rates of alcohol and drug related offenses, has grabbed attention statewide for its latest efforts to curb underage drinking.

A proposed policy would have the school notify parents by mail when their underage children are caught drinking. The policy could be adopted as early as January after officials visit with parents, students and other schools that have enacted such policies.

While the threat of parent notification might be enough to get some children to stop drinking, it’s likely it won’t make much of an impact overall.

&uot;Most students care deeply about how they are perceived by their parents,&uot; Vice President of Student Life and Development Lee Bird told the Associated Press.

It’s true. &uot;My parents are going to kill me,&uot; or something similar is probably one of the most uttered phrases when a college student is handed a ticket for underage consumption when a party is busted by the authorities.

But realistically, the policy doesn’t have enough weight to get the majority of college students to stop drinking. When young adults are living away from home, there’s a limit to how parents can punish them.

It’s likely some parents won’t be concerned at all to receive such a letter. Those interviewed by the Associated Press indicated that as adults, college students need to make their own decisions and learn from them.

Also, this policy doesn’t even begin to address the issue of binge drinking among those who are of legal drinking age. Irresponsible drinking doesn’t end once someone becomes 21. Those people will still continue to supply alcohol to minors regardless if their friend or acquaintance will get in trouble with their parents. Binge drinking, incidences of drunk driving and other alcohol-related offenses among those who are legal will not change because of this policy.

St. Cloud University’s initiatives are certainly a start. But that’s it – a start. There are still a myriad of problems that need to be addressed, other students who aren’t going to be affected by this program.

The university should be applauded for taking that first step, but the journey doesn’t end there. Hopefully, officials at St. Cloud University, and colleges around the state, will realize that.