Written by: Michael Arnold
College and drinking. The words have almost become synonymous. We’ve all seen National Lampoons, Animal House. But in American colleges this sort of exaggerated lifestyle has become pervasive.
How often are college kids drinking, and what are the real effects? Has the use of alcohol transformed from a casual party starter to an unhealthy way of life? In fact, it has.
Studies have shown that 31% of American college students currently meet the criteria for alcohol abuse. The consistent use of alcohol sustained for four years can easily become habitual and lead to alcoholism after college and throughout life.
The serious danger of alcohol abuse doesn’t only apply to the long-term. A 2009 study reported that 97,000 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 are victims of alcohol-induced sexual assault or rape. A startlingly large figure that will only increase as college communities continue to embrace excessive alcohol consumption as a premier social hobby.
Despite schools’ exhaustive efforts, each new class of college freshmen extols binge drinking as the god of socializing. It is a reality that will never go away unless if one thing is changed – the drinking age. Although an irony, a lower drinking age will actually change the image of alcohol for many youths.
American universities are the only institutions that deal with the trouble of excessive on-campus drinking, because they exist in a country in which the legal drinking age is 21.
European universities don’t experience these problems because the culture forces youths to mature at a younger age. With a barely enforced legal drinking age of 18, France’s adolescents generally have their first experiences with alcohol well before the average American. By the extension of this fact, when they are of university age French youths tend to have already learned how to drink and how to behave with alcohol.
At the Cité Internationale Université de Paris, a large public college on the outskirts of Paris, binge drinking is virtually a non-issue. In fact, students are even permitted to drink publicly on-campus. This notion would be far-fetched to an average American student.
That’s because alcohol has become the forbidden fruit at American colleges. Binge drinking and excessive partying is not only fun because it alters one’s senses, but also because it is taking a risk and doing what’s against the rules. The result: churning out year after year of Americans damaged mentally and physically by years of excessive drinking.
If lawmaker’s would realize that a 21 drinking is not going to change college atmosphere’s, but actually continue to downgrade them, then perhaps there would be a noticeable change in the college party culture.