Universities across the nation are providing education, shelter and activities to many young Americans as they transition into adulthood. So it only seems right that they should work to protect their students' well-beings and lives also.
USA Today reported the story of the president of Frostburg State University in Frostburg, Maryland, who has been implementing tactics over the past decade to reduce excessive drinking among students, and the unruly consequences of it. These consequences include violence, drug use, sexual abuse, assault and even death.
Jonathan Gibralter, who is now leaving his post as Frostburg president after nine years, has introduced approaches to the student body, including notifying parents if their child is arrested or cited by police, scheduling classes on Friday to prevent getting an early start to the weekend, training local police and bartenders on how to handle alcohol-induced incidents and making freshmen take an online alcohol course, much like the one that is required at UCF — which is not a dry campus.
As a result, binge drinking among Frostburg students has decreased by 25 percent, and the average amount of drinks consumed each week has decreased by half.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that nearly 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die each year from alcohol-related injuries. The amount of non-fatal injuries sustained by students as a result of alcohol is reported as 599,000 per year. The amount of students who say they have driven while under the influence each year is more than 4.8 million.
There were a few Frostburg students who did not appreciate Gibralter's moves, even likening it to the Prohibition. It's so easy to get carried away with drinking in college because for many, it is the first time away from home. Countless movies and TV shows portray college as a 24/7 alcohol rager. Therefore, when a school makes changes to increase its watch on alcohol consumption, some may feel it is eliminating a famed and exciting college tradition.
Some students think that moving off campus officially removes them from the school's jurisdiction, thereby making it no longer liable for their actions. However, they are still part of the university's student body, and anything that were to happen to them or another student on or off campus immediately becomes a university issue.
The legal drinking age may play into the amount of binge drinking on college campuses.
As the saying goes, "You always want what you can't have." When we turn 18, a new world opens up before our eyes. We can now buy lottery tickets, fireworks, cigarettes and even firearms. We can enlist in the military and enter clubs. We are legally adults, for all intents and purposes, but we can't purchase alcohol just yet. Maybe we feel entitled to the drinks or pressured by our peers to take advantage of our new-found freedom. Without proper training, it is way too easy for underage students to go overboard, especially if they have never had prior experience with liquor.
Universities are meant in part to teach students how to be successful after they complete their schooling. Something that goes hand in hand with that is ensuring that they make it past graduation alive.
While universities don't necessarily have to ban all alcohol on campus to make a point of increasing safety, they are responsible for teaching students how to drink safely and keep others safe.
They do not have to act as parents, but they must offer guidance and wisdom in order to educate and shape a better generation of adults.
Noelle Campbell is a Digital Producer for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @Noellecampz or email her at NoelleC@CentralFloridaFuture.com.