Tags: Education | Law Enforcement | alcohol | intoxication

Fighting the Coma Culture at the University of Virginia

By Wednesday, 24 August 2016 04:00 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Those few, lonely college students who identify exclusively as male at the University of Virginia got a break last week. Previously I wrote how universities spend a great deal of time and money fighting an imaginary problem — a “rape culture” blamed on male testosterone — while ignoring the real problem: The coma culture surrounding college binge drinking.

UVA was made famous by a false rape story in Rolling Stone. There are regular reports of dissolute young women waking up naked or disheveled in some stranger’s bathroom, living room, backseat, or dorm room.

No wonder there’s a problem with drunken sex–capades, as you can read here, UVA has a rate of emergency room alcohol visits that is up to triple the rate for the entire U.S.

The event that epitomizes the coma culture at UVA is the non–university, off–campus block party at the beginning of school. It’s an annual drunken blowout that leaves a trail of dead brain cells, property destruction and he–said–she–said sexual adventures.

Until this year UVA’s administration spent more time fighting “climate change” than it did coed incapacitation. But after a wave of Trump-level bad publicity, the administration decided to, well not crack down, but admonish down on the block party.

Instead of telling incoming freshman and their parents that underage drinking would be met with a no tolerance policy and violators risked expulsion, the administration issued a series of warnings followed by an all-carrot, no-stick policy.

Freshman were required to complete an online alcohol education course. At freshman orientation Dean of Students Allen Groves warned against the evils of littering, “If you have a huge party in the middle of the street and trash the area and leave cups, what does that mess send to our Charlottesville neighbors about respect?”

Groves also sent a letter that was almost stern, “Law enforcement will be increased in the [Block Party] area this year . . . Law enforcement will be focusing especially on underage possession of alcohol, public intoxication, open container violations, driving under the influence, and use of false identification.”

University President Teresa Sullivan’s wrote an ominous letter to parents, “We know that the most dangerous time for sexual assault is the first few weeks of the academic year, the period known as the Red Zone. More than 50 percent of all reported sexual assaults on college campuses take place during this period.”

The school’s athletic director sent yet another stern letter to athletes, “there has been a history of underage and heavy drinking leading to disruptive and criminal behavior during these parties in recent years . . . If you live in the area where the block party is held, you and your roommates are responsible for ensuring illegal and excessive behavior does not occur. Violations of athletics department and team rules will not be tolerated.”

And the athletic department made a video on the same topic.

Finally in a bit of counter–programing, UVA sponsored a competing alcohol-free event that featured pizza, leftist ice cream and donuts — evidently alcohol is considered a more immediate threat than obesity — along with non-judgmental chaperones and a band.

Surprisingly enough the fuddy-duddy paternalism that characterizes what passes for university authority these days had an effect. Lt. Stephen Upman of the Charlottesville Police Department reports the crowd was down approximately one third, from an estimate of 6,000 last year to 4,000 this year.

Ambulance calls were down, too, from 13 to only two.

Evidently the administration also allowed the campus police department to transition from daycare workers in blue to genuine law enforcement. UVA Police issued eight alcohol-related summons and made two public intoxication arrests.

This compares with zero block party-related arrests last year.

This outsourcing of alcohol infractions to police sounds stringent until one learns the Charlottesville Police Department doesn’t inform UVA when a student is arrested. As far as President Sullivan is concerned a student remains in good standing with UVA's much hyped "honor code" even when he's passed out in the drunk tank.

What UVA may discover is public relations campaigns have a tendency to taper off and become background noise. Without enforcement, which includes expulsion for alcohol-related offenses, the attraction of wild women and free booze may overpower the lure of Chunky Monkey.

Drivers were hectored for decades about how seat belts save lives, but seat belt usage only became pervasive after cops started writing tickets. The same dynamic affects immature drinkers.

An institution with the goal of preparing students for the real world would introduce them to taking responsibility for their decisions, rather than acting like a consequences airbag for adolescent stupidity.

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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An institution with the goal of preparing students for the real world would introduce them to taking responsibility for their decisions, rather than acting like a consequences airbag for adolescent stupidity.
alcohol, intoxication
Wednesday, 24 August 2016 04:00 PM
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