Drinking will continue

Story by Nick Gourdoux

A rumor circulating around campus is that saying you’re from the state of Wisconsin before competing in a drinking game in other parts of the country will result in you being automatically disqualified out of fear that you will easily win. And steal everyone else’s drinks.

The consumption of alcohol has become deeply ingrained into Wisconsin’s culture – heck, Milwaukee’s professional baseball team is named after the people that make beer. Combine that with the college atmosphere that allows increased freedoms and minimal responsibilities while promoting experimentation and socialization in a community that consists of thousands of people going through practically the same experience, and you have a dangerous concoction.

Drinking and college have gone hand in hand since long before the days of John Blutarskyand the men of “Animal House,” but development of cell phones and Facebook have only made socialization easier and alcohol abuse a regularity.

That is why it should come as no surprise that UW-Stout’s Chancellor Charles W. Sorensen’s attempts to crack down on excessive drinking has received a decidedly negative response. I believe underage drinking and alcohol abuse among college students is a serious problem. But the route being taken by Sorensen isn’t going to be effective.

According to an April 11 article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Sorensen sent a memo to faculty and staff saying he would take strong disciplinary measures – including suspension – against students who have frequent underage drinking citations or repeated use of fake identification, hosting house parties and other alcohol-related violations. The article goes on to mention that UW-Stout is planning on adding more Friday classes in an attempt to put an end to “Thirsty Thursday” parties. As someone who falls under more than one of the categories listed, let me tell you this: it’s not going to work.

“Thirsty Thursdays” are celebrated by more than just students that do not have classes on Fridays – some students apparently do not have a problem going to class hungover after a night of drinking. Increasing the number of Friday classes will just put an unnecessary strain on students that commute long distances to school. While it may have positive side effects – like lowering the time it takes to graduate or reducing overcrowding – it should not be passed off as a half-baked attempt to curb alcohol abuse.

Suspensions could potentially help curb the issue, but I’d question the legality of the idea. The article points out that a state law was passed to help UW-Milwaukee handle off-campus incidents in neighborhoods heavily populated by students, but no actions have been taken yet. Besides, where do you draw the line between school life and private life? Could the school suspend me if I got a parking ticket instead of an underage drinking ticket? Both are clear violations of the law.

A short suspension would probably just give the student more time to drink and party, which seems like the opposite of the school’s intentions.

Many students simply scoff at the current laws, so what is the point? In fact, I know students who have raised money to pay for the fines they received for hosting a house party by hosting more house parties – in some instances the next day. It would appear as though college students are going to drink no matter what. If that’s the case, why not make it legal?

Lowering the drinking age would help eliminate the stigma associated with alcohol and would help, in part, to eliminate some of the temptations students face to drink. If drinking is frowned upon by so many, what do you think rebellious youths are going to do? If the age is lowered, won’t the novelty and expense of going to the bars quickly get old?