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Time to End Drinking as Sport on Campus

Time to End Drinking as Sport on Campus

(Katarzyna Bialasiewicz | Dreamstime.com) 

By Thursday, 06 October 2016 09:41 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Typically its the embarrassment connected with a low ranking that galvanizes a college administration into action.

The football coach is fired. Assistant coaches tell their families to start packing. And the college president assures everyone the next head coach will be the one who can finally balance academic excellence in one hand and a bail bondsman in the other.

But this time it was a top 20 ranking that built a fire under the College of Charleston. The Princeton Review ranked that school at No. 15 on the list of the top 20 party schools in the nation, joining the other members of the Bacchanal Conference in offering a bachelor's degree in binge drinking.

Shortly thereafter President Glenn McConnell placed a temporary ban on serving alcohol at fraternity and sorority parties. McConnell didn’t mention the Princeton ranking, but he did refer to out of control parties and students so drunk they required an ambulance to transport them to the emergency room. “Enough is enough,” McConnell announced. “This type of reckless and dangerous behavior will not be tolerated.”

This ban will affect approximately 2,300 students. Before fraternities and sororities can again party down the Division of Student Affairs must complete a review of the system and every member must undergo an additional session on substance abuse, high-risk behaviors and bystander intervention; which does not mean topping up a brother’s glass.

It’s about time. A past College of Charleston survey found that at least 34 percent of incoming freshmen were already “high-risk binge drinkers.”

McConnell’s statement is in marked contrast to the hand-wringing administration at the University of Virginia. There it took an underaged girl’s death, sexual assaults and a false fraternity gang rape story in Rolling Stone to motivate an otherwise inert administration. My earlier columns on the “coma culture” as the real cause of the “rape culture” on campus and UVA’s tardy efforts to address the problem are here and here.

The College of Charleston’s policy doesn’t exactly require blowing into a ignition interlock device before a student can open the door to enter or exit his room; this might be a good idea since the survey says 35 percent of students drink in the dorms and 30 percent say drinking interferes with academic performance.

Still the policy is more punitive than that at UVA.

Charleston’s efforts differ in two important ways. Mike Robertson, senior director of media relations, explains that all alcohol violations and sanctions are reported to the student’s parents. The city of Charleston Police Department also informs the school of all students arrested off-campus for alcohol infractions — something that doesn’t happen at UVA, where you can be sleeping it off in a Charlottesville, Va. jail and not be in violation of the “honor code.” “Students in our residential halls that are cited by our public safety department for alcohol possession and are required to appear before the dean of students,” Robertson said. All alcohol violations result in the student meeting with “a substance abuse counselor, undergoing an alcohol assessment test and also attending alcohol awareness sessions.”

In 2012 there were 171 alcohol-related disciplinary actions or conduct referrals, in 2013: 205 and in 2014: 166. Either the sessions are so onerous students will sober up to avoid another dose, or training is really effective, because Robertson says, “Very few students have a second or third alcohol offense in our residence halls.”

Last school year eight students were expelled for alcohol violations.

These sanctions are a good start. Gentry McCreary, a consultant sho works with colleges on substance abuse and hazing prevention among sororities and fraternities told the Post and Courier in an interview, “Study after study — I have yet to see a study that has a different finding — shows the binge drinking rates on college campuses are higher among fraternities and sororities members than they are among non-affiliated students.”

But there is no reason to limit the alcohol crackdown. Right now the college houses 3,331 students on campus. Many of these are freshmen who, if the survey is to be believed, can use an intervention. If the school can ban smoking in university housing it can ban alcohol.

Right now a 21 year old student in housing can have Cutty Sark in his crib, but he can’t light up a Camel. It’s time to apply the ban to booze, too.

A good start at ending the coma culture would be to emulate the University of Delaware.

It’s campus police in cooperation with the Newark Police and state troopers charged 180 for underage drinking at an off-campus fraternity party.

A no-tolerance policy for alcohol violations and a total ban on all athletes drinking during the school year would send a message that students have marinated in alcohol long enough.

Michael R. Shannon is a commentator, researcher for the League of American Voters, and an award-winning political and advertising consultant with nationwide and international experience. He is author of "Conservative  Christian’s Guidebook for Living in Secular Times (Now with added humor!)." Read more of Michael Shannon's reports — Go Here Now.



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A no–tolerance policy for alcohol violations and a total ban on all athletes drinking during the school year would send a message that students have marinated in alcohol long enough.
alcohol, drinking
Thursday, 06 October 2016 09:41 AM
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