College Drinking

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COLLEGE DRINKING: SOCIOLOGICAL POINT OF VIEW

Alcohol – one of the most misused drugs today – is one of the most popular and readily available of all types found on contemporary college and university campuses. Waking in a stupor after the previous night's party, missing classes, falling behind and ultimately losing whatever funding may have accompanied one's higher education is but one representation of how drugs can detrimentally impact one's college experience. Many students think college is just one big party now that they are on their own at school; however, the soiree does not last long once parents find out the extent to which their adult children have detrimentally impacted their scholastic rating by skipping class, failing to complete assignments and generally neglecting their responsibilities.

For example, the marriage between alcohol consumption and college life have long been accepted as the norm within the confines of campus existence; however, this decade has marked a period in time when violent outbreaks and campus riots are being attributed more and more to the overindulgence of alcohol, rendering it illegal on several major university grounds. Even though such alcohol restrictions represent a potential answer to the problem, they are also causing even more riotous behavior inasmuch as students contend their rights are being violated by the limitation. The issue at hand is not casual social drinking but a phenomenon known as binge drinking. Adolescents and young adults who choose to imbibe do so without considering the detrimental effects of such heavy consumption, rendering them volatile and defiant when authorities are summoned to calm down a situation that has become out of hand. "Binge drinking is dangerous; it's a problem to protest, not a right to defend" (Anonymous, 1998, p. 26A). The 1990's have heralded in a new kind of college student who does not take kindly to authority figures, frequently utilizing alcohol as the means by which to call forth the courage necessary to defy it. A combination of "youthful self-indulgence and fearlessness" (Anonymous, 1998, p. 26A) has been to blame for the recent rash of alcohol-related campus riots.

Inasmuch as college students have become "more aggressive and less respectful" (Stockwell, 2001), police and on-site campus authorities are having a significantly more difficult time controlling alcohol-related behavior before it escalates to riotous activity. In one semester alone, five separate campuses fell victim to seven immense parties that ultimately ended up transforming into violent riots as a result of alcohol consumption. The relative newness of disrespect toward law enforcement has authorities puzzled with regard to its intensity. While protests of the 1960's often transpired into tussles between participants and police, there was still little resemblance to the outright defiance toward this particular social entity. Indeed, there is an underlying basis to the foundation of such insolence, which has inadvertently and reluctantly pushed some the country's most notable institutions of higher education into the limelight.

"We've noticed this year ... more and more people have in-your-face attitudes than ever. I think its people taking advantage of kind of an anonymous situation. They go in there looking for fun, and when it gets to a certain pitch; they can get away with anything. And they're getting away with it" (Stockwell, 2001).

There was once a time when college students represented some of America's most lively, ambitious and energetic population; however, today that image has been severely tarnished by the relative few who insist on challenging customary and acceptable behavior. "…Attitudes toward society among college students today have changed beyond recognition" (Stockwell, 2001). Yet there are those who contend that it remains an infringement of individual to deny one's right to abuse alcohol. Being that...
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